03 February 2016
‘We’ll give a voice to those who have not spoken,
we’ll find the words for those whose lips are sealed’
We celebrated the feast of the Presentation yesterday [2 February 2016], both in our reflections at this conference in Kilkenny and at the celebration of the Eucharist last night in Saint Canice’s Cathedral.
In our morning discussions, as we learned about Franciscan spirituality and experiences, we were reminded of the wonderful “old-age pensioners” in the Bible, such as Abraham and Sarah, who laugh at the prospect of their own child, Elizabeth and Zechariah, when he is struck dumb at the news of their own child, and Anna and Simeon, who respond prophetically to the Child who is brought to the Temple.
I know as a father that, culturally, we are disposed towards rejoicing and seeing God in the face of a child we see. But do we see God in the face of challenge, do we see God in the face of sadness, do we see God in the face of sadness, do we even see God in the face of ridicule?
Our speaker reminded us of a meeting with a priest in the East End who told him to respond to what is and to look forward to what is to be. Watching and waiting is serving, like Anna and Simeon, and we need to take time out to be with God. We need to be present and to be open to being surprised.
A young boy in a school in the East End was asked what a saint is, and replied that a saint is someone who knows Jesus and does what he asks. Yes we need know Christ. But then we need to get with doing what he wants us to do.
In the evening, after some time in the countryside in Co Kilkenny, I returned to Saint Canice’s Cathedral for a celebration of the Eucharist on the feast of the Presentation with other priests from the Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough, and was asked to assist with the administration of the Holy Communion.
Lin Word and Sacrament in the cathedral, like Simeon and Anna in the Temple, we were invited to see Christ and to meet him in Word and Sacrament. Christ is presented to us, and we present ourselves to Christ.
In our Post-Communion Hymn, we sang the 1993 hymn by the Revd Professor June Boyce-Tillman of Winchester (Thanks and Praise 158):
We shall go out with hope of resurrection,
we shall go out, from strength to strength go on;
we shall go out and tell our stories boldly;
tales of a love that will not let us go.
We’ll sing our songs of wrongs that can be righted,
we’ll dream our dream of hurts that can be healed,
we’ll weave a cloth of all the world united
within the vision of a Christ who sets us free.
We’ll give a voice to those who have not spoken,
we’ll find the words for those whose lips are sealed,
we’ll make the tunes for those who sing no longer,
vibrating love alive in every heart.
We’ll share our joy with those who are still weeping,
chant hymns of strength for hearts that break in grief,
we’ll leap and dance the resurrection story
including all within the circles of our love.