Father Roy Karakkattu was pleased to welcome members of the Legion of Mary from Luton for an annual retreat on Saturday, 15th July 2017 at the Church of The Holy Child and St Joseph in Bedford, England, home of The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Morning Mass, Exposition, Adoration and Confessions were followed by lunch and an opportunity to visit the Repository. Our theme for the afternoon was ‘The Living Word’.
We offered a Rosary for Life, Faith, Family and Vocations in front of the Miraculous Relic Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We also petitioned her intercession for many personal and national intentions. We laid our intentions at her feet in trust and confidence knowing that she instructed St Juan Diego in 1531 to tell the people to come to her:
‘Am I not here, I am who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.’
The Church encourages us to read the Bible with an open heart. With this in mind, we took the passage of the Wedding Feast at Cana from the Gospel of John (2:1-10) and reflected prayerfully on the beauty and perfection of God’s provision, Mary’s presentation of the problem to her Son on behalf of the people and the obedience of the servants on our Lady’s instruction to, ‘Do whatever he tells you…’ Jesus foreshadows his sacrificial hour as the Bridegroom of the Church and his later transubstantiation of wine into his own blood.
Lectio Divina is a traditional Benedictine practice of treating scripture as the Living Word of God (and not only as texts to be studied). To open the divine text to us, we should approach with a prayer, time enough to meditate on the Word and underline and ponder key words and phrases that resonate with us.
‘It is especially necessary that listening to the word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical text the living Word which questions, directs and shapes our lives.’
(Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Inuente, 39)
Living the Power of the Word
Following the Divine Mercy prayers at 3.00pm, I led a reflection on the power of both the biblical word and the spoken word.
Our words can either build up or tear down. Proverbs reverberates with constant references to the importance of words:
The mouth of the upright is a life-giving fountain, the tongue of the upright is purest silver, The lips of the upright nourish many peoples and the mouth of the upright utters wisdom…
(Proverbs 10: 11, 20, 21, 31)
We all know that words have power but how seriously do we really take this? The reality of taking care of what we say about ourselves and others is evident in Proverbs 18, verse 21 where it is clear that, ‘Death and Life are in the Power of the Tongue and you will eat its fruit…’
The American evangelist, Joel Osteen, takes up the theme of speaking blessing over ourselves, our families, situations and challenges in his book, ‘I Declare, 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life’. For example, instead of waking up every morning and saying, ‘I am so tired, I can’t face the day, I look terrible, I’ll probably catch a cold’ and so on, we can turn this into ‘I can do all things in him who gives me strength, I feel good and today will be blessed. I am healthy and strong and will be a blessing to others’…
In other words, we become what we say and we can equally bless others with our words. I recall a number of years ago when a good friend, Martin O’ Boyle, pointed out one of the most important verses in the Bible:
‘I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…’
Are we taking this on board? We can speak life and death, blessing or curse and it will come about. Let us memorise this and put it into practice! Genesis tells us that God is the author of the power of the creative word, God spoke and there was light. The prophet Isaiah also tells us:
‘Thus says the Lord: ‘As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes forth from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’
(Isaiah 55: 10-11)
Jesus himself says,
‘So I tell you this, that for every unfounded word people utter they will answer on Judgement Day, since it is by your words you will be justified and by your words condemned.’
(Matthew 12: 36-37)
Let us be strengthened in the knowledge that we have creative and healthy power in our spoken word…
Father Roy concluded the day with a reflection on the miracle of the loaves and the fishes and the wonder of God’s provision but also on the obedience of the person who allowed their five loaves and two fish to be shared…