Sorrowful Mysteries and the Joy of the Lord.

 

by Sr Ann Swailes o.p.

Rosary Plaque from the cloisters at St Dominic's Stone
One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear,
and forthwith came there out blood and water.

The liturgical calendar can be confusing for children. Friends who have always been Catholic have told me of their puzzlement when, just a couple of months after Christmas, Lent rolled round, and they were encouraged by parents or catechists to give up sweets or try harder to say their prayers in some kind of solidarity with Jesus in his temptations. Baffling indeed: he’d only been born a few weeks ago; how could a baby do battle with Satan in the wilderness?

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The Seven Last Words from the Cross

By Sr. Ann Swailes

Christ Crucified
Christ Crucified

The distress of parting from those we love takes many different forms, ranging from the misery of temporary but still painful physical absence – parting may be such sweet sorrow, but it is sorrow nonetheless – to the anguish of estrangement, misunderstanding or betrayal, where the continued physical presence of the beloved feels like a wound and a mockery, to death itself, coldly shocking even when prepared for.  But any of us – which I’m guessing is all of us – who have experienced any form of leave taking from those for whom we care will know, I suspect, a curious phenomenon common to all such circumstances. Seemingly inevitably, the last conversations we shared with the friends who are lost to us, or whom we fear lost to us, take on a heightened significance. We hoard up our words and theirs, and drag them out for frequent inspection, sometimes almost obsessively, investing them with a significance that we would never think of bestowing on our, or their more everyday utterances. And, frankly, at least at its most extreme, in this practice, madness sometimes lies. “And then I said…and then he said, and then I said”: we can drive ourselves to distraction this way, tearing great gashes out of our peace of mind as we examine the minutiae of our motives, and those of our friends in an attempt to reassure ourselves that all will in the end be well. And of course, we are doomed to frequent disappointment, because no human words, ultimately, can bear that kind of weight. 

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Station VII: Jesus Falls a Second Time

 by Sr. Ann Swailes

“The soldiers struck him rudely, and he fell several times”.

The first time and the third, one gets the thing. Too readily perhaps. Our clichés tug and shriek

Where hush would more befit a dying God, and yet our quest for comfort makes us speak

Or else we veil our heart-stunned silence and our stupid doubt within abstraction, figuring, and trim

Enumeration of our sacraments. First fall: that’s like confession, and the last, that’s him

Prostrating at the altar wrought from gallows by his glance.

 

But this unpatterning of pattern, this pointless mid-point, repetitious, shapeless dance

Partnered by dirt and shame, of wobbling feet on dizzy sun-stabbed dust, as down he folds again.

Squaddies drum bored fingers at the halt, flick innuendo at the tribes he made

To light their nations. It makes no sense. His ragged limbs can’t stand. Omnipotence lies powerless, limp, and splayed.

 

What rubric could encapsulate this pain?

What liturgy could make this horror sing?

Only the eternal work of holy love, that brings the Mind of God to sup

And drink his people’s chaos every spring,

And, stumbling with us, thereby raise us up.

Come, everything is ready

Sr Marie Kasparova [A visiting sister from the Czech Republic)]A talk given for the Women's World day of Prayer

Thank you for inviting me to celebrate the World day of prayer with you. I would like to share some of my thoughts about the central biblical text chosen as a motto which I find very inspiring.‘Come, everything is ready’. It is a generous invitation. What can we imagine behind the word "everything"? Some of us maybe will think about a future life with God, others about their future partners, vocations, jobs, families... Some people might be more suspicious and may object that this "everything" does not mean just positive things. There can be some illnesses, catastrophes or accidents in our lives — nothing to look forward.  But whatever we think it is always in terms of the future.

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To Praise, To Bless, To Preach.