“Like a Bird to its Nest” – Sr. Ruth Burrows, O.C.D

Since Friday when I read this—the Gospel was on the Presentation in the Temple, and Simeon—and again today, Sunday, the same Gospel, this phrase has haunted me, charmed me, teased me.  The quotation comes from the reflection by Sr. Ruth Burrows, O.C.D. in the Magnificat magazine.  It begins:  “When his parents brought the Child Jesus into the Temple, Simeon held out his arms to receive him.  An old man stretches out for the Child; the Child comes to him like a bird to its nest.” Here is a picture of what can be, of what should be. He always comes to waiting arms.” [“Simeon’s Waiting Arms, p. 433]

Simeon is an old man.  He has been waiting for years, promised by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Salvation of Israel.  Did he know to wait for a child?  If not, then what?  The tent of his heart has been pulled, stretched, till his very body stretches to receive the Child, the desired One of all the ages, thousands of years.  His is the Salvation which Moses did not see, not Abraham, not Elijah, not Jeremiah in his bitter Lamentations or even Isaiah who told us that the virgin would be with child—Emmanuel, God with us.

Waiting in the Temple, when he sees this divine Baby, old man Simeon stretches his very heart, stretches out his arms,  longing to enfold the Desired One.  And what of Jesus?  Like a bird to its nest” the Child nestles in the old man’s arms. To the longing heart, Jesus has come home.

Sister Ruth continues:  “Let us ask him to show us how our arms are kept back from stretching towards him.  Let us begin all over again to live for him.  Simeon’s selflessness is an echo of Jesus’ selflessness.  Simeon and Jesus suit one another.  Both have one mind, one will.  This is what can be, what should be….”

We all know that if our arms are full of packages we cannot stretch them out to receive a baby.  No, it is only the empty arms, the stripped heart and will that can stretch out to receive the Christ.  But what a delight for the devout who wait like the ten wise virgins—their lamps full of oil for the coming of the bridegroom; for those who pray without ceasing by living with great love in the Temple of their ordinary lives; for those stretched in longing in the tedious, humdrum days of all their years; for those reaching for Jesus who comes with all the enthusiastic joy of a baby cooing and waving his precious little arms, launching Himself “like a bird to its nest” in our hearts.

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Faith through Persecution – SILENCE, directed by Martin Scorsese

Flowing from the manger in Bethlehem and the radiance of the Christ Child, we have today the feast of the first martyr, St. Stephen—in true counterpoint.  I could not help but think of the film which I watched recently on Amazon prime, director Martin Scorcese’s SILENCE, 28 years in the making, his great passion and dream.

      This heart-piercing, soul-rending film explores in great depth the persecution of the faith, of both Christians and Catholics in Japan in 1633.  Purportedly about the apostate priests of the time, to me it renders better what faith is, the suffering and perseverance of these great martyrs, as well as the cunning cruelty of those who persecuted them, who used every trickery especially to make the priests, themselves, apostasize.  The film will stay with you long after you watch it.  It is most humbling.

 See also Scorsese’s dramatic interview on youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbYiGdinejU

DIVINE OFFICE – Podcast

This week I have once again returned to the beautiful prayers of the Divine Office.  I own the four volume collection of Divine Office books, but for various reasons, over the last months, I had stopped using the full office, praying instead (not very regularly) the shorter version provided by MAGNIFICAT.  

What I found helpful is the PODCAST of the Divine Office, beautifully sung and chanted by divineoffice.org.  User-friendly, I can listen and pray along, reading in my book of the divine office.  Find the podcasts here, all free:  PODCAST OF THE DIVINE OFFICE.

Text and audio here:  DIVINE OFFICE.ORG

Have a most blessed Christmas.  Find a way to enrich your spiritual life this new year.  So many resources are available, online and elswhere.

CANTICLE of CANTICLES–St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s Sermons

Just a few days ago, I found a treasure online, a profound work by St. Bernard which I had never seen before.  However, the format of the files was so difficult to read that I was moved immediately to edit it myself, making it user friendly and scaled to fit on phone or tablet.  The Table of Contents is on p.. 16.  Pages are designated in blue; find titles in bold red.  Enjoy!

B-_ST_BERNARD_-Canticle_of_Canticles_Sermons