27.1.23: All yours

On Wednesday, whilst getting dry after a shower, I surprised myself by saying aloud, “Thank you for my towel, Lord.” But then I saw in a flash that even the towel I was using was not actually mine. It was provided by God for me to use on earth, but I won’t be able to take it with me when I die, so it’s really just on loan for a while. This is also true of everything I think I possess, for nothing is actually mine. Then today’s blog began to arrive:

Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help (Isaiah 58:7; NLT). 

May I share what you send, Lord,
And give what you loan,
Since I can claim nothing at all
As my own.

For all things are yours, Lord,
And nothing is mine –
I’ll take nothing with me:
In death, all is Thine.

Everything we have has come from you (1 Chronicles 29:14; NLT).


References 

He is ever merciful, and lends (Psalm 37:26; NKJV). 

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. May the name of the LORD be blessed! (Job 1:21; NET).


Reading: Luke 12:16-20; NLT.

A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 

Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, ‘My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’

But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

26.1.23: A blessing in disguise

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NLT). 

Yesterday morning I learned something that was completely new to me. I had begun a migraine the evening before, so I knew I needed to have a day of complete rest to help it pass. This rest-day happened to coincide with the day a friend’s husband was due to have major surgery.

Suddenly I saw the migraine as a blessing in disguise, because it created the time, space and opportunity I needed to pray for them both throughout the day. Immediately after this, I grasped that many other illnesses and adverse circumstances could also be used in the same way.

It may be that seeing our own sickness as an opportunity for intercession is linked to our willingness to embrace suffering, and to thank God for it. There is much I don’t yet understand about this subject, but I hope to learn more.

For now, I glimpse that this approach to illness could become a helpful, meaningful way of sharing Christ’s suffering, and of serving others. Perhaps it could even be described as a “vocation”.

Together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT). 

So, as a prisoner in the Lord, I beg you to walk in a manner worthy of the vocation to which you have been called: with all humility and meekness, with patience, supporting one another in charity (Ephesians 4:1-2; CPDV).


References

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28; NLT).

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; NKJV). 

Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:10; NLT).

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years (Isaiah 63:9; NLT). 

15.1.23: Prayer #3

Ah! To my great relief, yesterday I discovered that using my rosary to pray has greatly eased the long-standing problem I mentioned a few days ago. This is the need to break off my personal prayers whenever a new prayer I need to write down starts to arrive. Each time this happens, I experience an inner conflict. I recognise the new prayer’s significance immediately, and know I need to start writing, but I don’t want to break off from whatever I am seeing, saying, or experiencing in order to do so.

However, yesterday morning brought a change. Using the new approach to prayer described the day before (https://wp.me/p45bCr-deF), I discovered that I could use my left hand to keep hold of the bead I was praying on, whilst typing on my iPad with my right. It’s hard to describe what a huge step forward this is for me, but the bottom line is that it worked.

Pausing to write in this way didn’t interrupt my prayers at all, because the writing simply became part of them. As soon as I’d written down what I’d been given, I was able to go straight back to the bead I’d reached, and to continue my prayers without experiencing any loss of continuity. Praying and writing became one.

This might not sound very important to anyone else, but it’s an answer to prayer for me, and a great relief. Even as I type these words, I’m still holding the bead I had reached when I had to start writing this blog. Thank you, Jesus, that my circle of prayer can remain unbroken.

My rosary prayers can continue on and off throughout the say. When I need to use both hands for a task, I can mark the bead I’ve reached with a plastic-coated tie (see photo below), but I’m hoping that a better marker will come to me before too long. Any suggestions would be very gratefully received.

Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

14.1.23: Prayer #2

As I was  beginning to surface from a bad dream early yesterday morning, I heard a voice call out my name: “Ruth!” A few moments later it happened again: “Ruth!” I felt disorientated and confused, too sleepy to respond.

Sitting on the edge of my bed (I have to stand up slowly), I tried to pray about what had happened, but I don’t think I made much sense. 

Even once I began to move about, it took me several more minutes to realise that I could have answered: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9; NLT). I prayed about this, but felt sad that I had missed my chance to respond.

After breakfast it was hard to pray for others, as discussed yesterday (here is a link: https://wp.me/p45bCr-deo). Then a possible way forward suddenly came into my mind.

Introductory prayers
Using the first section of my five-decade rosary (the cross and the five beads which lead to the main circle), I kissed the cross, and used it to make the sign of the cross. Then I said five of my favourite morning prayers, one on each bead. Pausing at the centrepiece, I asked the Holy Spirit to direct my prayers, and to help me to pray.

First decade: Praying for others
Next, I held the first bead of the first decade whilst praying for the first person who came into my mind. After each bead, I moved on to the next, waiting to see who it was for, then praying for them, as described in the link above.

When I reached the fixed “Our Father” bead, I kissed it, and made the sign of the cross with it again, whilst saying: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Then I rested for a moment with my arms crossed on my breast, wondering what would come next. 

Second decade: Giving thanks
Almost immediately, I saw that the next decade was for giving thanks, so that’s exactly what I did. On each bead, I waited to see what came into my mind, then gave thanks for it. I knew that this could include saying thank-you for “bad” things, as well as “good” ones.

Half-way through the second decade, I saw what needed to come next: asking God’s forgiveness. Pausing to write this down, I continued giving thanks, until the next “Glory be”, when I rested again.

Third decade: Saying sorry, and asking forgiveness 
On the next group of beads, I said I was sorry for ten different things I had got wrong, one at a time, including my long-standing flaws and weaknesses. I asked God’s forgiveness and help on each bead, as before.

Fourth decade: Forgiving others
By the time I reached this point, I was tiring, but could see that the next ten beads would be about forgiving others. In fact there was no one at all I needed to forgive, so I moved straight on to the last ten beads.

Fifth decade: Praising God
The final decade was devoted to praising ten different aspects of God, which was very easy to do.

Conclusion
I’m hoping that this way of using my rosary might be particularly helpful when praying with words feels like an unmanageable task, or I’m finding it hard to concentrate. Holding the beads one at a time will hopefully help to keep me centred and grounded. It also limits the number of prayers on each subject to ten, though obviously this shouldn’t be too rigid.

The prayer on each bead will be as short, honest and direct as I can make it, so it will hopefully be possible to develop a momentum that keeps me moving forwards to the next prayer, and the next, rather than getting bogged down, or feeling overwhelmed and giving up. Finally, I plan to try starting and ending my circle of prayer by holding the cross during a period of silence.

12.1.23: Many things in life are hard

A few days ago I was thinking about what a struggle it can be just to give to others, though perhaps giving is relatively easy in comparison to many of life’s other challenges. Almost before I knew it, I had to start writing today’s blog:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NLT). 

Many things in life
Are hard, Lord:
Giving, saying sorry,
And forgiving those who hurt us;
Facing fear, enduring failure,
Illness, disability, and grief.

Yet, with prayer and practice,
They get easier to manage,
Till they become
A source of growth,
Of thankfulness –
And even inner peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you (John 14:27; NIV). 


References 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30; NLT).

We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28; NLT).

10.1.23: Heaven

As soon as I started to pray last Monday, fresh prayers began to arrive. It was all I could do to keep up with them, and at one point, to my horror, I thought I had accidentally erased a whole piece. Fortunately, I managed to find it in the end. Here is one of the prayers I received that day:

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NLT). 

Heaven
Is being one with God –
From genesis
Before our birth,
Through trials and sorrows
Here on earth;
In loss and gain,
In joy and pain –
Forever one
In love.

Heaven
Is being one with God –
Let’s offer thanks,
Rejoice and pray,
And follow Jesus
Every day.
Let’s seek his face,
And share his grace –
Forever one
In God.

Heaven
Is being one with God –
Let’s praise his name
With every breath,
And walk with him
In life and death.
Then, safe ashore,
We will adore –
Forever one
With God.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

6.1.23: A circlet of prayer

Today’s blog came to me when I was praying yesterday morning. It links back to the day before, so if you want to refresh your memory, here is a link: https://wp.me/p45bCr-d9R.

Whilst writing the poem below, I saw in my mind’s eye a very simple circlet of beads to go with it. So, later in the day, I made a prototype, pictured above. Afterwards I realised it needs to have groups of eight beads, rather than 16.

It will have one bead per line, and will be said silently, in time with my breathing. A larger bead will mark the end of the last line. I will kiss each marker-bead as I come to it, before beginning the prayer again on the next eight beads. There will be enough beads in the circlet to say the prayer several times, making it a source of comfort and strength. Using it requires only one hand, so it can easily be said whilst lying down, sitting, standing, or walking.

Anyway, after this long introduction, here is today’s prayer. Of course, a circlet of beads is not necessary for praying this little meditation. You might like to try breathing in as you silently and slowly say the first line of each couplet, then out as you say the second. 

I love you, LORD; you are my strength (Psalm 18:1; NLT). 

Jesus, I love you.
Jesus, forgive me.

Jesus, I thank you,
My staff, and my rod.

Jesus, please help me.
Jesus, I praise you.

Jesus, you love me,
My Lord and my God.

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT).


References 

In Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body (Colossians 2:9; NLT).

Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11; NLT).

God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19; NLT).

God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ (Colossians 1:19; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital

Do you remember me saying that I’d been able to give up supergluing the final knots on my rosaries? Yesterday, to my horror, my own (unglued) rosary came apart. Now I’m imagining all the unglued rosaries I’ve sent out coming apart. There’s nothing I can do about this other than to start using glue again, and making sure people know that if they have a problem, I’ll be very happy to re-cord (and glue), their rosary.

3.1.23: Acceptance

Today’s prayer is the third of four which all arrived together on New Year’s Eve.

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

This is how I am, Lord,
I accept it.
I want to do your will,
And not my own.

I want to follow you, Lord,
So I humbly bear my cross;
Like you, I offer thanks
For grief and pain.

This is how I am, Lord,
I embrace it.
I want to do your will,
And to endure.

I want to be like you, Lord,
So I’m walking in your steps:
Like you, I must face death
To rise again.

Those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! (Isaiah 26:19; NLT).

2.1.23: For all He gives

Context: Today’s prayer is the second of four linked poems which arrived together on New Year’s Eve. If you didn’t see the first, here is a link to it: https://wp.me/p45bCr-d8z.

This little sequence of prayers is based on a very special prayer said daily by the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham. I’ve just received permission to post it here, and plan to do so on the 5th of January.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV). 

For all He gives each day
Say, “Thank you, Jesus”.

For all He takes away,
Say just the same.

No matter what goes wrong,
Say, “Thank you, Jesus” –

Accept His will,
And bless His holy name.

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21; CSB).


The Rosary Hospital

Two days ago, my husband helped me to tidy my bedroom. After a lot of discussion, he rearranged some of the furniture in order to create a suitable place for making hot drinks. I also tidied my shrine, unconsciously encircling the holding cross with my Fiat rosary.

Next day I looked at my shrine with fresh eyes. The words: “the circle of prayer” came into my mind, and I recognised straight away that this phrase felt significant, though I didn’t know what it might mean. About an hour later, I realised it referred to the rosary, for what is a rosary if not a circle of prayer? So I’m now wondering where this realisation might lead…

18.12.22: Always a way

Mount Sinai

Context: I was saying goodnight to God very late last Thursday evening when today’s prayer arrived, straight out of the blue:

Jesus told him, “I am the way” (John 14:6; NLT). 

There’s always a way through life with you,
No matter, Lord, what you send;

Always a way to walk with you,
Right to the darkest end.

There’s always a way to be redeemed,
Whatever we’ve said, or done;

Always a way to thank you, Lord,
No matter what trials may come.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NLT).


References 

Everything comes from God (1 Corinthians 11:12; NLT). 

Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realise that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NLT).

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NIV).

He forgives all my sins (Psalm 103:3; NLT).

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you (1 Peter 5:7; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital

Yesterday evening I made a new Facebook page for The Rosary Hospital. However, I then discovered that I couldn’t access my two normal Facebook pages. It took me two hours to restore my previous sites. Today it was confirmed that there is no straightforward way to toggle between all three sites on my iPad.

So instead I have added a Rosary Hospital stream to my Facebook page, “Daily prayers for Christian living”, and am content with that.

Meanwhile, you might enjoy the picture below, which I took a few days ago. It shows the pattern made on a chapel wall by the sun shining through a stained glass window. As the original was very blurred, I’ve enhanced it digitally:

Angel on the Nunnery chapel wall