Archive for September, 2017

Welcoming Autumn


The autumn equinox on 22 September is one of two days in the year when almost the whole planet experiences a roughly equal day and night. It brings us into that beautiful transitional season of autumn. There is a noticeable shift in the weather. The nights get longer and the air begins to cool. The leaves change colour and trees begin to shed their leaves. Autumn is at once a season of harvest and celebrating abundance and of growing darkness and apparent death.

Autumn, a season of light and darkness, of transition and letting go, reminds us that everything is transitory and nothing is permanent. There is so much to learn from this season if we stop and reflect.

The equinox calls us to reflect on balance in our lives. It invites us to ponder that which is bright and that which is shadow. If we look around us today we might see a lot of the shadow – the destructive trails of hurricanes, the devastation of earthquakes, the threat of war, economic uncertainty and so much more. But as cooler weather brings us to wrap ourselves in warm clothing, we are reminded that we are wrapped always in the cloak of God. The changing colours and falling of leaves remind us of the importance of change and letting go. This is a time to look inward and introspect. It is time also a time to look ahead.

This week the Jewish community and the Islamic community celebrate their respective new years. The Jews celebrate Rosh Hashana and the Muslims celebrate Al-Hijra. Rosh Hashana celebrates God as the creator of the universe and especially the creation of Adam and Eve. Al-Hijra is the first day of the Islamic month of Muharram and Muslims celebrate this day as the beginning of Islam as a community inspired by God, obedient to God and bound together by faith. Both celebrations remind all of us to acknowledge God as creator of the universe, to value the community of faith to which we belong and to recommit ourselves to the care of our neighbour.

So, at the beginning of this autumn, let our prayer be:

May the angels of light glisten for us this day.

May the sparks of God’s beauty dance in the eyes of those we love.

May the universe be on fire with Presence for us this day.

May the new sun’s rising grace us with gratitude.

Let earth’s greenness shine

and its waters breathe with Spirit.

Let heaven’s winds stir the soil of our soul

and fresh awakenings rise within us.

May the mighty angels of light glisten in all things this day.

May they summon us to reverence,

may they call us to life.

(Praying with the Earth: A Prayerbook for Peace, J. P. Newell)

SIGNIFICANT DAYS THIS WEEK: Rosh Hashana (Sept 20); St Matthew (Sept 21); International Day of Peace (Sept 21); Islamic New Year (Sept 21); Autumn Equinox (Sept 22); Padre Pio (Sept 23)

READ: The Spirituality of the Autumn Equinox

WATCH: Relax with the music of Vivaldi’s Autumn

CONSIDER: Pray the Autumn Blessing by Joyce Rupp

Light from darkness


This week begins on a date that is etched in our memories, 11 September. It was on this day that the word ‘terror’ took on a whole new meaning and came knocking on everyone’s doors. Today, we are accustomed to breaking news announcing yet another terror attack. People’s lives have changed forever because of that day and its aftermath. We remember today the many victims of terror attacks around the globe. We remember the people affected by these attacks and we pray that someday all things will be made new and ‘all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well’.

This week, as we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows, we remember the many people who have been affected by heavy rains and flooding in South Asia, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the Americas and the earthquake in Mexico. We remember the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar. For those affected by these natural disasters and human persecution, the shadow of the cross is dark. They understand the horror of the cross. To many, it makes no sense and many must be asking the question, ‘Why me? Why us?’

The cross, to many, is a symbol of horror and death, yet, we as Christians recognise it as the one symbol of commitment and discipleship, of new life and hope, of constant care and everlasting love. Mary endured the sorrow of watching her son die on the cross, and she rejoiced in the Resurrection. It is the hope of new life that lifts the shadow of the cross.

Richard Rohr writes:

Darkness is always present alongside the light. Pure light blinds; shadows are required for our seeing. We know the light most fully in contrast with its opposite—the dark. There is something that can only be known by going through ‘the night sea journey’ into the belly of the whale, from which we are spit up on an utterly new shore.

At the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a single Callery pear tree surrounded by white oaks. It was found amidst the rubble at Ground Zero. Its branches were broken and charred, its roots were severely damaged and all that remained of it was a stump no higher than eight feet. Today, after years of rehabilitation, it stands as a living testament to ‘resilience, survival and rebirth’. It is known as the Survivor Tree. What might we learn from it today? Does it not whisper to you of resurrection? Does it not shout at you about new life emerging from apparent death? Does not its shadow remind you that we need the darkness to appreciate the light?

SIGNIFICANT DAYS THIS WEEK: Remembering 9/11 (Sept 11); Exaltation of the Cross (Sept 14); Our Lady of Sorrows (Sept 15); International Day for Democracy (Sept 15); Selichot (Sept 16)

READ: What the Survivor Tree at Ground Zero can teach us

WATCH: The story of The Survivor Tree

CONSIDER: Spend a few moments in prayer today remembering the people affected by floods, hurricanes and the earthquake. Raise your voice in solidarity with the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar.

A Blessing


Let us start this year conscious of the presence of God in each one of us, in everyone and everything around us, in all that we say and do and in all that will happen throughout the coming year. Let the reassuring words of God, ‘Do not fear, for I am with you’ (Is 41:10), echo in our ears. Let us recognise that God has laid out only the best plans for each one of us, ‘plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope’ (Jer 29:11).

It is significant that at the end of this week we celebrate the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us, at the start of this academic year, place all our hopes and expectation, our fears and doubts in the care of Mary and trust that she will walk with us and watch over us as she did Jesus her own son.

And as you begin this year we pray this blessing upon your work as teachers:


May the light of your soul guide you.

May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.

May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.

May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those

Who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.

May your work never weary you.

May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.

May you be present in what you do.

May you never become lost in the bland absences.

May the day never burden you.

May dawn find you awake and alert,

approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities and promises.

May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.

May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.

May your soul calm, console and renew you.


SIGNIFICANT DAYS THIS WEEK: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (8 September); International Literacy Day (8 September)

READ: Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew Joint Statement on World day of Prayer for Creation

WATCH: The Pope’s Prayer intention for all our parishes

CONSIDER: Get actively involved in this year’s Season of Creation