Jesus

The Gospel in the Altar Rail

The altar rail separates the congregation from the Sanctuary, symbolising our sin, separating us from Heaven and from God. The holy place is on that side, and we’re stuck on this side, able to look but not enter.

But the altar rail also stands for Christ Himself, who for our sake became sin. As the altar rail stands in the middle, as both sanctuary and nave, and the meeting point between them, so Christ, in becoming our sin, has made it the meeting point of heaven and earth.

And it’s at this meeting point that we come, right to the threshold of Heaven, to kneel down, receive God Himself into us, and take Him out into the world.

God bless you!

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God loves sinners

God loves sinners.

I think this is a lot easier to accept when the sinner in question isn’t myself. When I’m the sinner, I find it impossible to accept that God really loves me, and can’t help hiding from God and trying to earn my way back into His good graces. Which I also know I can’t do.

Basically, God has to batter me down with His tenderness, to accept His merciful love. It’s impossible for me, but not for Him. The most I can do is ask Him to do this.

When we sin, we are in a state of sin, and live by the logic of sin, which is entirely incapable of understanding God’s grace and mercy. We think God is like us, judging and measuring up and seeking to exploit his friends and crush his enemies. Like Adam and Eve, we hide from God, because love doesn’t make sense to us.

Somehow God breaks through. I am put in His presence, and His merciful love breaks me down. In fact, it crucifies me. The heart of stone is shattered, and I’m set free, made alive again.

But it’s not about becoming “righteous”… In fact, I think that when I’m no longer the sinner that’s being crucified by His merciful love, I’m back in the logic of sin, and will soon commit a sin that makes that clear. Christian holiness is God’s own life in an unworthy sinner, and once we’re “worthy”, we’ve kicked Him out.

Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen

How to forgive

Recently, I realised I hadn’t properly forgiven some people. I wanted to, but couldn’t figure out how. I thought things like, “I forgive them, but they did still…” I realised that I didn’t really know what forgiveness was.

So I looked to the cross to learn, and there I saw that forgiveness means letting yourself be hurt. Jesus didn’t have to endure the cross, but He did, accepting every blow and every lash, rather than fighting the sinners attacking Him. All our sins are against Him, and so in choosing to suffer our sins, He was directly and immediately forgiving us.

So to forgive, we must allow ourselves to be wounded. Those we must forgive will be the ones who have wounded us, and are wounding us.

I think I had been thinking of forgiveness as being a matter of letting go, but now I think of it as accepting. I can’t just drop my pain, physical or otherwise, but if I accept it, if I say yes to the pain, then I’m free, and the pain, and whoever inflicted it, is no longer an enemy I can’t escape.

It feels pretty great. Unforgiveness creeps up again sometimes, but then I remember to accept the pain, and I’m free again.

And I think that that liberty is a small foretaste of the resurrection.

God bless!

The crazy real meaning of Easter

Easter reminds us of the essential truth, that Christianity is a weird cult centred on escaping death by means of death.

We believe that one historical man was so fully alive, that life burst forth wherever he went. And that He was so fully alive, because He was always ready and willing to give Himself/His life away. But Life will always have enemies, because it destroys the control that comes from death and violence. And so this man Who was Life itself, was brutally put to death. Yet even in His own death, He gave His life so freely, that He brought life to death itself, and in dying, was only made more alive.

And we, by accepting and living by the gift of His life, that gives itself freely even to death, may be united to Him, and live and die and rise again in Him.

Christians, when they realise what they are, are an uncontrollable people, who will live fully even if that means dying, and will even rejoice to “give” their lives.

That is the crazy religion we call Christianity.

God bless you! Christos anesti!!!

The Solution

I saw a book on tidying recently, and it set me thinking about how we keep seeking solutions to fix our lives, and answers to the mysteries of our lives. There are a lot of books like this today, and I suspect the genre must be growing. And of course, most of them will be very helpful. But they’re never enough. The problems and riddles remain, and we buy another book soon after.

I couldn’t help feeling the solution to it all should be incredibly simple. And it is.

It’s Jesus.

It’s the cross.

It’s love1.

Of course, problems remain. The cross won’t teach you how to tidy your house. But it does make the problems and riddles no longer of ultimate importance, and provide the way through them all. And it will lead you to find the solutions too.

So, there you have it. The secret to life. It is completely free, but will cost you everything. And it will also give back even more.

God bless you!


1But we only know what love is because of Jesus and the cross (1Jn3:16)

Self-destruction on the other hand…

‘Self-improvement is masturbation. Self-destruction on the other hand…’

I’ve written before about my love for this Fight Club quote. Now, it’s coming to my mind again as we begin lent.

There’s a common tendency to view lent as another chance at New Year’s resolutions, and with it self-improvement. An opportunity to diet and/or save. To become a better version of yourself.

But originally and traditionally and essentially, it is about self-destruction over improvement. That is, it is about uniting ourselves to Jesus upon the cross. It is about putting yourself to death.

Why do we do this? Why have many saints down the ages gone to extreme lengths for lent? Because our selves are prisons to break out of, into the freedom of divine love. Because true life is not a matter of preservation, but of giving ourselves away, even to death. Because God Himself lives in this way, dying and giving Himself away.

If we are nourished and taught and loved by such a God, we will come to imitate Him. God expresses Himself to us in love, and therefore His image is impressed into us. We love, because He first loved us.

So I just want to encourage you to destroy yourself this lent, because God loves you.

It is true that we can only destroy ourselves and take up this freedom because we have received His love. It is not possible in ourselves, but only in Jesus Christ, by the power of His death. And yet also, the more we willingly submit to the consuming fire of the divine love, the more freely His love will enter us and transform us into Itself.

God bless you!

Have we become worldly?

Can I honestly say, that when I look at myself or at my Church, locally or universally, that I recognise followers of Jesus, the Body of Christ, or the Kingdom of Heaven?

‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!’ [Lk12:49]

Where is this fire?!

I don’t see it in my life. And I rarely hear it in homilies. And I hardly see it in the Church. I start to wonder if we’ve forgotten Jesus.

There are saints amongst us, though. There are holy bishops and priests and religious and lay people, living the gospel. There are orders, and movements and organisations and just people. There are many people out there who sacrifice themselves with Jesus, living the reckless, radical love of the Father.

I just wish it were the rule. I wish that I heard this fire in every homily, and saw it in every Church activity. I wish that we were obviously so much more than a club, or an NGO. I wish that this fire was burning in all my flesh, down to the marrow.
But I’ve read, that all that’s needed to become a saint, is to will it. God wills it already; we just need to cooperate, accept His grace, obey His gospel.

And the truth is, there’s no real life apart from Jesus’ life. It’s a choice between life and — far worse than death– not-life. I could perhaps call it half-life, but I think not-life better captures the emptiness I’m thinking of. Or being, “lukewarm”. 


I hope I’m not alone in feeling this way. Please pray with me, that we will together be set on Jesus-fire.

‘Dip it into the sauce of the blood of Christ’

‘If ever anything sad befalls you, or anything grieves you, or if perchance something causes you weariness or bitterness of heart, or sweetness of soul turns insipid, lift up immediately your eyes to your Lord hanging nailed to the Cross. Look upon Him, His head crowned with thorns! Gaze upon the nails, the iron nails which fasten Him to the Cross, and upon the lance piercing His sacred side. In all trying moments, picture and contemplate the wounds in His hands and feet, picture to yourself the wounds in His most blessed head, the wound in His sacred side, the wounds of His whole body. Call to mind that He was wounded for your sake, that he suffered for you and that His sufferings were so great because He loved you beyond compare.

‘Believe me, a glance at such pictures and thought on such sufferings will quickly change your sadness into joy. What was heavy to bear will become light. What causes your weariness will become something to love. The rugged and the difficult will be changed into sweetness and relish, so that soon, with Holy Job, you will begin to exclaim: “The things which before my soul would not touch,” now when I look upon the “anguish” of Christ “are my meats” (Job vi, 7.) It is as though you were to say: The good things which were distasteful to my soul are now become through the passion of Christ, which I realise, sweet and savory.

‘In the Chronicles of the Franciscan Order there is related the following story (Cf. Chronicles xxiv, 3): A certain man being converted and having entered the Order eventually became impatient with the frugality of the Friars. The discipline of the Friary, too, upset him. Once, being very perturbed and lost to all patience on account of these things, he threw himself down before a crucifix. With bitter tears he enumerated the intolerable hardships he was called upon to endure: the burdens of the religious life, the scant and frugal fare, the tastelessness of the food and drink. While he poured forth his grievances, suddenly blood began to ooze from the side of the image of Christ nailed to the cross. As he continued his weeping and wailing, the bleeding image of the crucified Christ spoke to him these words: “When you find your food or drink distasteful, dip it into the sauce of the blood of Christ.”’
-St. Bonaventure, Holiness of Life, Chapter VI: Remembrance of Christ’s Passion