Vicar's Musings for Lent 4
10 March, 2013
We are blessed to have Br Bruce Paul SSF as our guest preacher today, from the Franciscan friary in Stroud, NSW. I first met Br Bruce-Paul in Auckland, New Zealand, when he was studying the Middle English Mystic, Margery Kempe, and I was studying her contemporary, Julian of Norwich. We worked together on a seminar entitled "Stability and Mobility" contrasting Julian's life as an anchoress, walled into a cell for decades, with Margery's incredible passion for pilgrimage; both mystics with a calling into the life of contemplative prayer, yet both so different. Br Bruce-Paul has since undertaken timely research into human sexuality and was awarded a doctorate last year by Charles Sturt University for his thesis: "The Graced Body: Toward a Theology of Human Sexuality." As well as preaching for us today, I have invited Br Bruce-Paul to speak at this month's Vestry meeting to consider the possibility of a Pastoral Visitation by the brothers in 2014. Contemplative prayer and the spiritual life are central to a catholic understanding of the Christian faith. If the brothers are able to visit St Peter's next year, this will build beautifully on such parish activities as the reinstituted retreat programme, the Institute of Spiritual Studies, the Icon School, the lecture series on Mysticism, the Cell of Our Lady of Walsingham, and the Mystics Anonymous contemplative prayer group.
In closing, a passage well known to Third Order Franciscans, that may be helpful for us all in our Lenten observance from The first Letter to the Faithful Penitents written by St Francis of Assisi in 1215:
All who love the Lord with their whole heart, their whole soul and mind, and with their strength, and love their neighbour as themselves, and who despise the tendency in their humanity to sin, receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and bring forth from within themselves fruits worthy of true penance. How happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things, and persevere in doing them because 'the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon them' (Is. 11:12) and the Lord will make 'His home and dwelling place with them' (Jn. 14:23). They are the children of the Heavenly Father whose works they do. They are the spouses, brothers and mothers of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We are his spouses when the faithful soul is united by the Holy Spirit with Our Lord Jesus Christ. We are brothers when we do the will of the Father who is in Heaven. We are mothers when we bear Him in our hearts and bodies with divine love and with pure and sincere consciences; and we give birth to him through a holy life which should enlighten others because of our example.
The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster
The Library, Hermitage of St Bernadine, Stroud, NSW.
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