Friday, March 10, 2006

Be not afraid!

Lent began on Ash Wednesday with the priest marking our foreheads with ashes as a sign of repentence and as a reminder of our own mortality:

Remember man that you are dust, and unto dust you will return.
This year a series of tragedies have reinforced this liturgical reminder of the fragility of life: Missey, a homeschooling mother died during a caesarean section, leaving five young children; the tiny daughter of a lady on a UK pregnancy bulletin board was stillborn at 25 weeks gestation; another homeschooling mother miscarried a longed for baby; the pregnant sister of yet another died leaving three children; a young girl (Candace Joy) has spent the last month fighting for her life after her body was attacked by a vicious flesh-destroying bacteria; a homeschooling family lost their two month old baby to SIDS. Each time I turn on the computer recently it seems that sorrow is being piled on sorrow. Each time I am reminded of our own human frailty, and worse, the frailty of our children, both born and unborn.

I was pondering this last Sunday as I walked to Church. God never promised us freedom from sorrow; indeed, the Gospels make it clear that we are to take up our own Cross alongside our Lord. He did however assure us that He has a plan, that every minute of our lives is part of that plan, and that we need never be afraid. When the late, great Pope John Paul II was elected to the office of St.Peter, he began his papacy with a clarion call: Be not afraid! A man who had lost all his immediate family - mother, elder brother and father - by the time he reached adulthood, and who had lived through the dark days of Nazi occupied Poland where death lurked round every corner, with priests and seminarians a particular target, Karol Wojtyla knew better than most the fragility of life - yet he could shout loud and clear: "Be not afraid!"

This Lent I am learning to remind myself that we should be aware of our own mortality, but that we should not be afraid of it; that we should be prepared to share the load of other's crosses, but not to fear our own. I have been reading my favourite psalm, which assures us that God has us in his care from the moment of our conception:
For it was you who created my being,
knit me together in my mother's womb.
I thank you for the wonder of my being,
for the wonders of all your creation.

Already you knew my soul,
my body held no secret from you
when I was being fashioned in secret
and moulded in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw all my actions,
they were all of them written in your book;
every one of my days was decreed
before one of them came into being. (Psalm 138)
I remember the words of the English medieval mystic, Dame Julian of Norwich:
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.
And I keep Pope John Paul's call in my heart:


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blessed reminder!


K said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it!