Saints occupy all walks of life...

Simple and so true!
Saints occupy all walks of life

This is a beautiful prayer to learn by heart. Then in those moments of struggle or pain, you can bring this back from your memory and speak the words as you meditate inwardly on Jesus.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all who love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

From St Patrick's Breastplate

Local(Cheshire, UK) poet Andrew Rudd has agreed to do the first of my 'Guest blogs'. Here he is:

Fourpenny Circus - the background

In 2006 I was Cheshire Poet Laureate number 4, followed by Jo Bell in 2007. Sometime that year, the idea came up – it was probably Jo who suggested it – of getting together and doing a show. We were all keen, in different ways, on the idea of sharing our enjoyment of poetry with new audiences – people who were turned off by events which consisted of middle-aged men in cardigans reading obscure things out of books. Why not have a show where poetry was something lively and entertaining?

That was the start of Bunch of Fives. We worked with Kevin Dyer – playwright and director of Action Transport Theatre Company. We put in a bid to the Arts Council and got some funding. We had a kind of boxing theme that grew out of the title, and we learned stuff off by heart – a new and terrifying experience for all of us. The show ended up with five ‘rounds’ on different subjects, performed in village halls, universities, Styal Prison among other venues. As soon as that show ended, Harry Owen (number 1) ran away to South Africa. So we decided to have another go, this time with four…
Fourpenny Circus poster
Which led, after a million ideas, to a circus theme and Fourpenny Circus. This show has raised the bar for all of us. More venues, costumes, a bit more ‘theatre’ and more interplay and development. Jo is the Ringmaster, John Lindley an escapologist. Joy Winkler takes to the tightrope, and I tame the lions. This ‘circus’ is seedy and past its best. It’s a place of memories and bizarre poetic ‘tricks’ – a variety show of dreams.

Visit for full details. Running through June and July, then extra dates in October and November – including Keele and Chester. See you there!

Fourpenny Circus

Kath: Andrew is the one on the left.
Read one of his poem's here

When you are next in a good bookshop take yourself off to the section on Christianity and look for the prayer books. Amongst the others you might find - The New Zealand Prayer Book.

In the late 1980s it was completed as the Anglican prayer book for the province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Holding closely to the Book of Common Prayer, it still managed to include Maori texts in an integrated way that has been confirmed by its continued popularity throughout the world-wide Anglican communion.

Just to give you a taster here is:

A version of The Lord’s Prayer
from The New Zealand Prayer Book

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.

Rather lovely, isn't it? You might want to print it off and use it in your prayer times occasionally.

I wonder if you have ever tried to read any of the Christian Classics - books written by the early Church Fathers and by later Christians that have been handed down through the centuries as worthy of our time and effort.

If not, one you might like to try, as one of your first, 'The Practice of the Presence of God' by Brother Lawrence. Or if that seems daunting, you could start with a simple, modern presentation of his teaching in thirty daily meditations: 'Living in the Presence of God'.

Brother Lawrence was born Nicolas Herman in 1614 and brought up in a small village in Lorraine, Eastern France. He fought in the Thirty Years War, worked as a valet, and in his mid-twenties entered the Discalced Carmelite religious order in Paris as a lay brother - not having the 'right' background to actually take clerical orders. He spent most of his life working in the monastery kitchens and later, as he was getting older, mending sandals.

Brother Lawrence learned and taught about acknowledging and experiencing the presence of God even in the most mundane of everyday tasks - and he certainly had plenty of experience of those! He became known as a man of wisdom and was sought out for his spiritual guidance.

Here are a few of Brother Lawrence's quotes from Living in the Presence of God:

You can turn to God with absolute confidence, bringing to him all your failures and sorrows. Your God is infinitely generous.

He alone can make himself known as he really is. But we go on searching in philosophy and science, preferring, it seems, a poor copy to the original that God himself paints in the depths of our souls.

Your holiness does not depend on doing 'other' things, but in doing for God's sake what you would otherwise normally do for your own sake.

The grace of Brother Lawrence and the simplicity and depth of his spirituality have remained attractive throughout the centuries. In his Maxims he writes:

Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.

Practising the presence of God transformed Brother Lawrence and it can transform each of us today.

I was looking over the content of Reflections and realised that I have made very little use of music and song. Yet I know, that many people find music a great aid in their prayer life. I tend to be a silence person myself, but I suspect I am in the minority!

So this is the first of, hopefully, several posts looking at music that can enhance our prayer life. I was introduced to this beautiful song of Bernadette Farrell's by my spiritual director a couple of years ago - and I was entranced. It is called Everyday God and it always touches me deeply and makes me want to sing out my love for God.

I have attached a rather lovely YouTube video clip to allow you to listen to it. Once you have heard it a couple of times and 'got' the tune, you might like to find a quiet place and moment and settle yourself to pray. Offer the time to God, thank God for the moment and then open yourself to God as you listen to the song once more - joining in if and whenever you feel like it. You can make it a prayer from the heart - a sung meditation. Perhaps even use your body, your arms, your head as part of your worshipping meditation.

For those who would like to use the words to meditate on - but without the music - then here they are. You might like to do a 'Lectio Divina' style of meditation with the words, dwelling on and mulling over the phrase or word that strikes a chord with you.

Earth's creator,
      Everyday God,
Loving Maker,
      O Jesus,
You who shaped us,
      O Spirit,
Recreate us,
      Come, be with us.

In your presence,
      Everyday God,
We are gathered,
      O Jesus,
You have called us,
      O Spirit,
To restore us,
      Come, be with us.

Life of all lives,
      Everyday God,
Love of all loves,
      O Jesus,
Hope of all hopes,
      O Spirit,
Light of all lights,
      Come, be with us.

In our resting,
      Everyday God,
In our rising,
      O Jesus,
In our hoping,
      O Spirit,
In our waiting,
      Come, be with us.

In our dreaming,
      Everyday God,
In our daring,
      O Jesus,
In our searching,
      O Spirit,
In our sharing,
      Come, be with us.

God of laughter,
      Everyday God,
God of sorrow,
      O Jesus,
Home and shelter,
      O Spirit,
Strong and patient,
      Come, be with us.

Way of freedom,
      Everyday God,
Star of morning,
      O Jesus,
Timeless healer,
      O Spirit,
Flame eternal,
      Come, be with us.

Word of gladness,
      Everyday God,
Word of mercy,
      O Jesus,
Word of friendship,
      O Spirit,
Word of challenge,
      Come, be with us.

Gentle father,
      Everyday God,
Faithful brother,
      O Jesus,
Tender sister,
Loving mother,
      Come, be with us.

Our beginning,
      Everyday God,
Our unfolding,
      O Jesus,
Our enduring,
      O Spirit,
Journey's ending,
      Come, be with us.

      Everyday God,
Now and always,
      O Jesus,
      O Spirit,
Through all ages,
      Come, be with us.

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Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia in 1910 and is of Albanian descent. She joined an Irish community, the Sisters of Loreto, when she was eighteen and after being trained, was sent to a convent in Calcutta.

She was very moved by the poverty she saw there and, when she was thirty-eight, she was given permission to cease her work in the convent school and work directly with the most poor in the slums, developing an outdoor school. Over time, she was joined by other helpers and when she was forty, she received permission from the Pope to found her own order - the Missionaries of Charity - caring for the most poor in society.

She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and her missionary order now flourishes throughout the world. A more detailed biography can be read on the Nobel Prize website.

The following words are reported to have been found on the wall of Mother Teresa's Children's Home, Shishu Bhavan, in Calcutta and/or on a wall of her home. They are now closely linked with her.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

These words are a modification of The Paradoxical Commandments - written by Dr. Kent Keith in 1968 to encourage and guide other student leaders.

In 1973 in North Cameroon, Mafa Christian communities wished to have their own coherent set of African pictures of the gospel message. The beautiful results of this project are portrayed on the Jesus Mafa website.

If you wish to see the pictures go to the Catalogue page

If you wish to use the pictures for prayerful reflection/meditation, then go to the Catechesis page where you will find sequences of pictures with text. I thought the annunciation was particularly beautiful and poignant. Lovely to pray with.

Here are some of my favourites illustrations from the site:

Does anyone else find these pictures as expressive and helpful as I do?

I have written before on the subject of intercessory prayer. I talked of the three areas of this type of prayer that seemed to be of interest:
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• Who/what to pray for?
• How to pray for them?
• Why pray for them?

The first post talked about 'Who/what to pray for'. The second of the three was about 'How we pray for people/situations.' And now for the third - why intercede?

It will probably seem obvious to some why we should pray for the welfare of others but there are some who puzzle over this. These are some of the questions that are asked:

- If God is all-knowing, why should we have to ask for help for others or for difficult situations?
- If God knows the desires of our hearts, why should we need to communicate them?
- If our prayers are not always answered, how can we go on praying in faith?
- Can God have a change of mind if we intercede? What does that say about God's nature?
- Does intercessory prayer affect the destiny of other people?

This is one area where looking at the word 'intercede' might help us. The English word for intercession comes from the Latin 'intercedo', meaning 'to come between', 'mediate' and 'to interpose on behalf of'. Intercession is a form of representative prayer where we represent other people or situations before God. It doesn't mean that we dictate the outcome of something, but rather we bring the issue/person before God and then pray as Jesus taught us - that 'your kingdom come, your will be done'.
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Of course, the chief reason for engaging in intercessory prayer is because Jesus interceded for us and taught us to follow his example. In John's gospel we read:

Christ prayed to his Father on the night before his Crucifixion, "May they all be one: as Thou Father, art in me, and I in Thee, so may they also be one in us" (John 17:21).

Jesus then goes on to pray for all those that would believe through the testimony of the disciples - you and me!

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

So if its a good practice for Jesus, I guess its a good practice for us!

Also, the fact that we are interceding for others - bringing them before God - means that we must ouselves be open to God and what God requires of us. It is often through us that God's will is done in the world. So we have in Proverbs:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8-9)

We are called not only to prayer but to action - that must surely be the full meaning of 'to intercede' - 'to interpose on behalf of'.

For me it also helps to think of the doctrine of the Trinity when thinking about intercessory prayer. God is three persons in one God. God is communion - there is sharing and communication within the Godhead. This communication existed before we did - before there was communication between humans (and other creatures, come to that). God does not actually need us to communicate to - God is complete and perfect in communication within the Godself.

And we are created in God's image. Not that we have more than one person within us but that we are called to the same type of communication as exists within the Godhead. Intercession is one form of communion - sharing a common life - being connected to one another through Christ and to God through Christ.

And finally, we have the teaching of the early Christians to guide us. In Romans, Paul speaks of how Jesus continues to intercede for us, even after his death and resurrection:

It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34)

And the writer of Timothy encourages us to pray for those in positions of power and influence:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. (1 Timothy 2:l-2)

James has a slightly different - somewhat personal - way of putting it:

Pray for one another that you may find healing yourself. (James 5.16)


At the risk of going on for too long, I'd like to leave you with the following quote by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia:

…Isolated, self-dependent, none of us is an authentic person but merely an individual, a bare unit as recorded in the census. Egocentricity is the death of true personhood. Each becomes a real person only through entering into relations with other persons, through living for them and in them. There can be no man, so it has rightly been said, until there are two men in communication. The same is true, secondly, of love. Love cannot exist in isolation, but presupposes the other. Self-love is the negation of love. As Charles Williams shows to such devastating effect in his novel Descent Into Hell, self-love is hell ; for carried to its ultimate conclusion, self-love signifies the end of all joy and all meaning. Hell is not other people, hell is myself, cut off from others in self-centeredness.

Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, pages 27, 28.

May God's blessing be with you as you intercede for others.