This book offers a reflective journey through life and scripture to finding inner peace, acceptance and a more fulfilling existence. It includes reflections, scripture passages, life-questions and some practical ways of responding to them.
This book can be used alone in quiet personal reflection or with others in group situations. It could be a companion at a retreat; it could be the means by which parish groups share faith together. Used slowly over time, this book will keep fresh the challenge to forgive and love oneself and others. Finally, even in the midst of human experience of wrong-doing, mistakes, guilt, shame, and a sense of abandonment by God, this book encourages a particular vision of God: the God who has not let us down, the God who still believes in us, the God who doesnt hold the past against us, and the God who has plans for us too.
John A. Flanagan
John A. Flanagan is from Co. Monaghan and is a priest of the Diocese of Clogher.
Published in 2009 this little book by a priest of the Diocese of Clogher has over 20 readings from Scripture. Each reading is followed by a reflection addressing issues in human experience. Some relate to acceptance and forgiveness probing the depths of abandonment and disap?¼pointment but ultimately leading to a faith experience and a greater awareness of Gods presence. Each section examines possible obstacles to the process and ends with a prayer for the journey. As a work it offers ideas for meditation that could be revisited and pondered over again and
again. It encourages the reader to look at Scripture in a more personal way, to enter into the story and experience the hand of God in the mun?¼dane, in the painful and in the unpredictable events of our lives. This work is recommended as its healing intention is that each person would realise their own God-giftedness; accepting and loving their aloneness and individuality however they experience this. The healing word is not ones own; one is gently encouraged to go share it with others.
- THE FURROW, May 2010
This book consists of twenty-three reflections over 103 pages. Each reflection begins with a passage of Scripture. Then, possible obstacles to responding positively to the passage are listed. Then comes a fairly lengthy reflection. Next, there are practical suggestions for a response followed by a concluding prayer called a Prayer for the journey. The subjects reflected upon deal mostly with the shadow side of our lives, for example, feeling that God is distant, failure to trust or be patient with God in times of crisis, feelings of rejection or inferiority, doubting Gods forgiveness, inability to forgive myself, hurts from the past, painful memories that affect my life, vengeful thoughts, a critical attitude, rating myself on what I do rather than who I am, being too busy to pray. Not that the book is negative. It is based on the premise that healing is always available to us.
It also has reflections on beauty, on new life in Christ, on the power of storytelling and on the Eucharist as bread for the journey to healing.
The book may be used for personal reflection but would also be very valuable for a group attempting to share their faith. The author, a priest of Clogher diocese from Co Monaghan, Ireland, gives us no further information about himself and fails to introduce the book. While this is a loss to the reader, it does not take from the quality of the reflections, the successful linking of Scriptures to the everyday challenges of life, the deep understanding of the human condition and the firm belief in a God who affirms and heals. Anyone who has to prepare homilies would do well to have this book to hand.
- Fr Tom Kiggins, St Patricks Missions, Africa. January/February 2010
This little book - just 103 pages - gives us material for a mini-retreat or just a straight forward read. Each chapter, which could be the message for the day, gives us a scripture reading, a reflection on that, a few pointers / questions to prompt our personal response and a prayer to which we will be readily able to add our own words.
It helps us to identify obstacles to our own spiritual progress, asking questions such as: Am I a source of strength to others? and suggesting, Explore how you might help someone to live into new hope.
One chapter at a time, read with humility and a reaching out for Love, cannot but bring us to reflect on our journey to God.
Perhaps we do not consider often enough how Christ faced defeat and a sense of failure? We are helped to thinking about that, uniting ourselves to Him.
John Flanagan suggests that if the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a difficulty for you, you might think of an especially compassionate confessor to whom you can go and confess your sin. That suggestion is not always easy since some confessors do not convey compassion, but tend to have a rather bland sense of having heard it all before. A good friend may be able to tell you of one who conveys deep solicitude.
Whatever the confessor is like as a human being, spend time realising that behind him is the Person of The Father Who held out His arms to the Prodigal Son. It is to Him that I pour out my story. With Him there is no such thing as the unforgivable sin.
The author encourages us to accept fully the Fathers forgiveness and to move joyfully on into the Light. He identifies possible obstacles to our doing that and encourages us to ask the Lord to restore our inner peace. That leads to the question, What does Heaven mean to me? As in all the chapters - read, be still, reflect.
- Angela Macnamara, The Irish Catholic
There was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she had spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. `If I can touch even his clothes, she had told herself, `I shall be well again. And the source of her bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, `Who touched my clothes? His disciples said to him, `You see how the crowd is round you and yet you say, "Who touched me?" But he continued to look all around to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because s1.1e knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. `My daughter, he said `your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and he free from your complaint.
Do I appreciate the people in my life that watch over and care about me?
Am I aware of Gods loving presence in me through the Holy Spirit?
When I face difficult problems in my life, do I reach out to Jesus with the same conviction as the woman who suffered for twelve years?
Am I a source of strength to others?
Many public buildings are fitted with surveillance equipment that is invisible to the naked eye, yet this equipment is responsive when necessary. It makes the buildings doors respond to us, directing us to enter and exit without effort.
There are other types of invisible surveillance in our lives which direct us: those whose inner sense of what we need watch over us and open the right doors for us where possible. We experience this inner sense in those who care and love us: parents, teachers, pastors, mentors and workers in our communities who organise life-enriching activities for us. Gods invisible but real presence is there in so many people helping to open doors for us. The woman with the haemorrhage is dealing with a physical complaint, but she is also dealing with a spiritual one: she is searching for the right way forward. The odds seem stacked against her. For example, medicine failed her; society ignored her; her sickness isolated her; she was broken on every level. Nobody cared enough about her to bring her to Jesus. The crowd pressing around Jesus ignored her, yet she believed that if she could touch his clothes, she would he well again. Jesus opens the door to physical healing for her as a way of opening the door to hope. He shows her that the care of God is as real as that healing, even though it is not always visible.
Jesus opens the way to faith for the woman and we can learn from her experience. Gods power prevails in us when we put our faith in him. He will also hell, us to find a way through problems and difficulties, where otherwise doubt and despair might fester in us. Jesus opens the way to faith for the woman so that the work of the Holy Spirit will hear fruit in us, so that we too will believe that God is keeping the right doors in life primed to open for us.
There is much in life that works against such faith: had things, accidents and illness, problems that appear insurmountable. The story of the woman is for our benefit, so that we will not lose trust in the God who loves us and watches over us in ways that we are not always aware of.
A PERSONAL RESPONSE
Ask a friend or someone you know and respect to help you find a way through the difficulty you might be in.
Support someone you know who is suffering at present or who is finding life problematic.
Perhaps you might read the Scripture passage again while asking God to help you have faith that he is keeping the right doors open to you in your life.
A PRAYER FOR THE JOURNEY
You are always near.
Your Spirit is in me watching over me, even though I am not always aware of it.
Help me to put my faith wholeheartedly in you when I find the journey tough. Increase my faith and restore mV hope in you so that I am always aware that you are with me and that, in the support of others, you are helping doors to open for me through difficult situations.
I pray through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Jesus took; with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. `Lord, he said `it is wonderful for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, from the cloud there came a voice which said, `This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him. When they heard this, the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them. Stand up, he said, do not be afraid. And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but only Jesus.
Do I take time to notice the beauty and glory of God breaking through in the world of nature?
Do I allow my spirit to rejoice in the splendor of Gods Creation?
Is my mind too cluttered with the worries and concerns of everyday to notice the sights and sounds around me that are real?
Maybe you have been in a lovely place where you felt a beautiful sense of unity with God in his Creation. You may have gone for a walk and basked in the serenity of a quiet sunset beach where the waning sun rested between heaven and earth after its days work. Perhaps the warm sea dappled red rays in front of you as if honouring your presence, while the tide splashed gently, caressing your feet. On another occasion you may have taken a walk across the hills in the local countryside on a summers day. Here you observed the beauty of Gods creation as breathtaking and transfiguring: sweeping landscapes rubbing against the sky, parked trees nodding as you pass by, flowers faithfully colouring the way in front of you.
Such glorious moments with God in the sanctuary of Creation offers the space to renew your energy and zest for life. It is an opportunity to reflect on and rediscover your identity in the world as a child of God -you are loved by God and God only wants the best for you. These quiet moments bring calmness and fresh sense of focus, which promotes a greater sense of harmony in life. These moments can be called transfiguration moments, because your energy is renewed and you are offered support to move forward in faith to the joy and glory that awaits you in heaven.
Jesus led three apostles up a mountain to give them a glimpse of the glory that lay ahead, which Jesus knew would stand them in good stead when he would no longer be with them. Jesus tells them to `stand up and `do not be afraid and not to [fall] on their faces when challenges, fear and doubt confront them. The identity of Jesus is made very clear to them when God says, `This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.
Our experience may not be as life-changing as that of the apostles; nevertheless, it strengthens our endurance to continue on our path to the glory that that awaits us in heaven. We need to allow ourselves some well-deserved quality time and space to declutter our minds and hearts so that we will feel Gods gentle presence and breathe afresh
Gods encouraging advice to stand up and not be afraid as we follow Jesus on our journey to heaven. Before Jesus entered into the full glory of heaven with God the Father, he underwent the excruciating pain of the cross. Even Jesus was not exempt from suffering. His transfiguration on the mountain gives us a purpose and a reason to `stand up and `not be afraid as we journey to the glory of heaven.
A PERSONAL RESPONSE
Go far an invigorating walk in the countryside, looking I and listening to the sounds of nature.
Take time to reflect and to see the image of God in the scenery around you.
Listen to God speaking softly to you in calmness and tranquility within your heart.
Allow this walk to be small life-changing moment to give hope and perseverance as you reflect on the glory of heaven that awaits you.
A PRAYER FOR THE JOURNEY
You care for me so much that you revealed on the mountain the glory that awaits me. Before you entered into the full glory of heaven, you suffered first. I know that suffering is part of the journey, but fill me with your courage to never give up and to keep focusing on the glory that awaits me in heaven. May I always find space and time in my life to listen to your reinvigorating words to `stand up and `not be afraid. Help me not to lose sight of heaven. May others see a glimpse of your glory shining through me in who I am and how I live.
I pray through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.