31st December


All things are possible to the person who believes. Mark 9: 23

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown”. And he replied: “ Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be better to you than light, and safer than a known way”.
“The Desert” by M. Louise Haskins

Suppose we find again the faith in God our forbears knew! The richest year of miracles in our history awaits those who are ready to follow God’s leading without checks or conditions. Journey on with God. What blessings await you!

May the blessing of light be on you
light without light and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine upon you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire
so that the stranger may come and warm herself at it
as well as the friend.
And may the light shine out of your eyes
like a candle set in the windows of a house
bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the rain be on you
the sweet soft rain.
May it fall upon your spirit
so that all the little flowers may spring up
and shed their sweetness on the air.
And may the blessing of the great rains be upon you
that they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean
and leave there many a shining pool
where the blue of heaven shines, and sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the earth be on you
the great round earth.
May you ever have a kindly greeting
for people you pass as you go along the roads.
And now may the Lord bless; you
and bless you kindly
An old Irish Blessing translated by B. O’Malley

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30th December

Our Brief Flight

I came from the Father, and I came into the world; and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father. .. It is better for you that I go away, because if I do not go away the Helper will not come to you. John 16: 28; 16.7

King Edwin informed the missionary Paulinus that he was willing to accept the Christian faith for himself, but he first wished to consult with his pagan advisors; if they agreed, they would all together be consecrated in the waters of life. Coifi, the chief of the pagan priests told the king:

‘I frankly admit that the religion which we have hitherto held has no virtue nor profit in it’. Another of the king’s advisors added: ‘ This is how the present life of human beings on earth appears to me, King. You are sitting feasting with your staff in a hall warmed by a fire, while outside the wintry storms rage; then a sparrow flies across the hall. It enters at one door and quickly flies out through the other. For the few moments it is inside the wintry storm cannot touch it but after its brief moment of calm it departs from your sight. Out of the wintry storm and into it again. – that is what human life is like. We know nothing of what comes after it, or what went before it. If this new teaching brings us more information, it seems right that we should accept it…’ So King Edwin, with all the nobles of his race and a vast number of the common people received the faith, and were baptised at York in 627.

When the time came for Alexander Carmichael to bid a final farewell to the friends he had made in the western parts of Scotland, Mor MacNeill, who was ‘poor and old and alone’, sent him on his way with this prayer:

And you are now going away
and leaving your people and your country
dear one of my heart!
Well, then, whole may you be
and well may it go with you
every way you go and every step you travel.
And my own blessing go with you
and the blessing of God go with you
and the blessing of Mary Mother go with you
every time you rise up and every time you lie down,
until you lie down in sleep upon the arm of Jesus Christ
of the virtues and of the blessings
Carmina Gadelica

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29th December

Holy Families

When Joseph and Mary had finished doing all that they were required, they returned to their home in Nazareth. The child grew and became strong; he was full of wisdom, and God’s blessings were upon him. Luke 2: 39, 40

To come into thy presence
Thou Virgin of the lowly
To come into thy presence
Thou mother of Jesus Christ
To come into thy presence
Thou dwelling of meekness
To come into thy presence
Thou home of peace
To come into thy presence
Beauteous one of smiles
To come into thy presence
Beauteous one of women
Carmina Gadelica

We pray for people who have no decent house to live in
For those who provide foster homes
For parents to keep their marriage vows
For parents to think deeply about their child’s character and calling
May our sons grow up strong and straight like young trees.
May our girls have the beauty of inner serenity.
May our farms and industries overflow.
May the voice of complaining cease from our streets.
Happy are the people from whom such blessings flow
who put their trust in God.
Inspired by Psalm 144

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28th December

Mothers Weep

King Herod gave orders to kill all the boys near Bethlehem who were two years old and younger. In this way what the prophet Jeremiah had foretold came true: A sound of mothers weeping is heard. Matthew 2: 16, 17, 18

Why do you tear from me my darling son, the fruit of my womb?
It was I who bore him, my breast he drank.
My womb carried him about, my vitals he sucked, my heart he filled.
He was my life, tis death to have him taken from me
My strength has ebbed, my speech is silenced, my eyes are blinded.

Then another woman said:
… Infants you slay,
The fathers you wound, the mothers you kill.
Hell with your deed is full, Heaven is shut,
You have spilt the blood of guiltless innocents.

And yet another woman said
O Christ, come to me!
With my son take my soul quickly!
O great Mary, mother of God’s Son,
What shall I do without my son?
For your Son my spirit and sense are killed.
I am become a crazy woman for my son.
After the piteous slaughter
My heart is a clot of blood
From this day till Doom.
11th Century, Anonymous

The vivid Celtic imagination transposed the agony of the Bethlehem killings into their own breasts. Which situations in our world demand that we do the same? Who are the weak whom we need to defend against the tyranny of the strong in our sphere of action?

High King of the universe
By choosing to be born as a child
You teach us to reverence every human life
May we never despise, degrade or destroy it.
Rather, help us sustain and preserve it

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27th December

Mother And Child

The star went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the young child was. They went into the house, and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped him. Matthew 2: 10, 11

Day of John the Loved – The Apostle John

The Virgin was beheld approaching
Christ so young on her breast
Angels bowing lowly before them
And the King of life was saying, ‘Tis meet.

The Virgin of locks most glorious
The Jesus more gleaming-white than snow
Seraphs melodious singing their praise
And the King of life was saying, ‘Tis meet.

O Mary Mother of wondrous power
Grant us the succour of thy strength
Bless the provision, bless the board,
Bless the ear, the corn, the food.

The Virgin of mien most glorious
The Jesus more gleaming-white than snow
She like the moon in the hills arising
He like the sun on the mountain-crests.
Carmina Gadelica

Cheers, the Gift; clap, the Gift
Cheers, the Gift on the living.
Son of the dawn, Son of the clouds
Son of the planet, Son of the star
Son of the flame, Son of the light
Son of the spheres, Son of the globe
Son of the elements, Son of the heavens
Son of the moon, Son of the sun
Son of Mary of the God-mind
And the Son of God first of all news.
Cheers, the Gift; clap, the Gift
Cheers, the Gift on the living.
Carmina Gadelica

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26th December

Keep Watch

The shepherds said to one another ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the manger. Luke 2: 15, 16

Once when I was living alone in my island, some of the brothers came to me on the holy day of the Lord’s nativity, and asked me to go out of my hut so that I might spend with them this day so sacred, yet so joyful. I yielded, and we sat down to a feast. In the middle of the meal I said ‘Let us be careful not to be led into temptation through recklessness’. They answered ‘Let’s be joyful today because it is the Lord’s birthday’. After a time, while we were still indulging in feasting, rejoicing and story-telling I again began to warn them that we should always be alert to any approaching temptation. They said ‘You give us excellent instruction, but let us rejoice, for the angel, when the Lord was born, gave the shepherds glad tidings of the great joy that was to be observed by all the people’. I said, ‘All right’, but later, for a third time, while they were still feasting, I gave a warning. This time they understood that I was not making this suggestion lightly, and they responded ‘Let’s do as you say. We do actually now feel compelled to guard against temptations and the snares of the devil, keeping our minds alert.’ When I said this, I did not know, nor did they, that any new trial would attack us, I was warned by instinct alone. However, when they got back to Lindisfarne the next morning, they found that the plague had struck and one of their number had died. This pestilence grew worse and worse, and nearly all that great company of spiritual fathers and brothers departed to be with the Lord. So will you, too, please always watch and pray.
Cuthbert, as recorded in Bede’s Life.

O Savior Christ
you existed before the world began.
You came to save us and we are witnesses of your goodness.
You became a tiny child in a cot
showing us the simplicity of our Parent’s love.
You chose Mary as your mother
and raised all motherhood to a divine vocation.
May all mothers be bearers of life and grace
to their husbands, their children and to all who come to their home

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25th December

Born For Us

Mary gave birth to her first son … and laid him in a manger – there was no room for them to stay in the inn. Luke 2: 7

The night the star shone
Was born the Shepherd of our flock
Of the Virgin of the hundred charms
The Mother Mary

The Trinity eternal by her side
In the manger cold and lowly.
Come and give tithes of your means
To the Healing Man
The foam-white breastling beloved
Without one home in the world
The tender holy Babe driven forth

The three angels of power
Come you, come you down
To the Christ of the people
Give salutation.

Kiss his hands
Dry his feet
With the hair of your heads
And O! You world-pervading God
And you, Jesus, Michael, Mary
Do not forsake us.
Carmina Gadelica

Your gift to us this day is more than we could ask or think – your very life.
This day may my gift to you be nothing less than my very life.

Hail King! hail King! blessed is he! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is he! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is He
the King of whom we sing
All hail! let there be joy!
Carmina Gadelica

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24th December

Eve Of The Great Nativity

An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. Luke 2: 9

This night is the long night
It will snow and it will drift
White snow there will be till day
White moon there will be till morn
This night is the eve of the Great Nativity
This night is born Mary Virgin’s Son
This night is born Jesus, Son of the King of Glory
This night is born to us the root of our joy
This night gleamed the sun of the mountains high
This night gleamed sea and shore together
This night was born Christ the King of greatness
Ere it was heard that the Glory was come
Heard was the wave upon the strand
Ere ‘twas heard that his foot had reached earth
Heard was the song of the angels glorious
This night is the long night

Glowed to Him wood and tree
Glowed to Him mount and sea
Glowed to Him land and plain
When that His foot was come to earth.
Carmina Gadelica

Babe of Heaven, Defenseless Love
in order to come to us
you have to travel far from your home.
Come to strengthen us
on our pilgrimage of trust on earth.
Your birth will show us
the simplicity of the Father’s love
the wonder of being human.
Help us to live fully human lives for you

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23rd December

Love’s Furnace

The angel said to Mary ‘Do not be afraid, God has been gracious to you. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God’. Luke 1: 30 – 32

Forget not, Trinity, holy and glorious
That heaven’s bright prince came down to bestow on us
His love, as babe, into Mary’s fair womb.
For nine months he who is angels’ Lord
Was hidden, love’s furnace, in a little room
Humbler than all, whom all adored.
A pure lamb, he stole down to earth
To free us from our sin so blind.
No city home will shield his birth
His mother a stable for bed must find;
There poorest of the poor she lay
Nor wine nor meat for hunger’s sting
In the rude confines of the cattle bay
Where God was born, apostles’ king.
Cold and exile he did not scorn
In the donkey’s manger, that holy morn.
Tadg Gaelach O Suilleabhain.

May the trust of Mary troubled by her strange call
And Joseph’s encouragement beside her through all
Be God’s gift to us.
May the radiant brightness and light of the Star
The hope and longing of searchers traveling from afar
Be God’s gift to us.
May the wonder of shepherds surprised by God’s love
The joy of the angels who came from above
Be God’s gift to us.
May the peace of the Christ-Child in carved trough of stone
Sounding the word ‘Saviour’ fashioned by Grace alone
Be God’s gift to us
Crawford Murrey

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22nd December

Summer Solstice

I will give you treasures from dark, secret places. Isaiah 45: 3

Life be in my speech
Sense in what I say
The bloom of cherries on my lips
Till I come back again.

The love Jesus Christ gave
Be filling every heart for me
The love Jesus Christ gave
Filling me for everyone.

Traversing corries, traversing forests
Traversing valleys long and wild
The fair white Mary still uphold me
The Shepherd Jesus be my shield.

The fair white Mary still uphold me
The Shepherd Jesus be my shield.
Traditional Gaelic
(Corries are circular hollows on the moutainside where deer often lie)

Now begins the twelve long nights of yule. One night soon will be born Jesus, Son of the King of Glory, creation’s Joy. You will gleam to him moon and furthest star. You will gleam to him hills and housetops afar.

Lord of the seasons, on this day of briefest light
help us to be at home with the treasures of the dark.
As the days have drawn in
help us to flow with the ebb tides of life.
At the turning of the year
help us to welcome the Dawn from on high

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