Sunday, 10 July 2016

nourish us

John Piper
St John's Chapel, Lichfield

Lord of all power and might,
the author and giver of all good things:
graft in our hearts the love of your name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness,
and of your great mercy keep us in the same;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

[Collect : Seventh Sunday after Trinity]

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2016

Saturday, 25 June 2016

who will chide you?

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches
Mary Oliver

image : Alice Christie

This poem was quoted by Canon Mark Oakley
at a reflective weekend in Westcott House, Cambridge
designed to help people exploring their vocation

Friday, 24 June 2016

the battle

The Tube Train
Cyril E. Power (1872–1951)

Prayer is the battle;
it is a matter of indifference where you are.
Whichever way God engineers circumstances,
the duty is to pray.

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

Thursday, 23 June 2016

light and truth

Silver paten
(Byzantine c 565)
found in 1910 in Kaper Koraon (Kurin, Syria)

I did not even know who Christ was, that He was God. I had not the faintest idea that there existed such a thing as the Blessed Sacrament. I thought churches were simply places where people got together and sang a few hymns. And yet now I tell you, you who are now what I once was, unbelievers, it is that Sacrament, and that alone, the Christ living in our midst, and sacrificed by us, and for us and with us, in the clean and perpetual Sacrifice, it is He alone Who holds our world together, and keeps us all from being poured headlong and immediately into the pit of our eternal destruction. And I tell you there is a power that goes forth from that Sacrament, a power of light and truth, even into the hearts of those who have heard nothing of Him and seem to be incapable of belief.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
The Seven Storey Mountain

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

wooden cross

Wooden cross of Latin type made from pieces of a boat that was wrecked off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy on 11 October, 2013. The vertical and horiziontal pieces are joined with a cross halved joint. The cross piece retains scuffed blue paint on the front, upper and lower surfaces. The front of the vertical section has layers of damaged paint. The base coat is dark green which was covered with a beige colour then painted orange. The sides and back are planed down to the timber surface. There is a small hole for suspension on the back of the vertical near the top. A fragment of an iron nail survives at the top in the right side of the cross piece. The back of the cross piece is signed F. Tuccio, Lampedusa

This cross was donated to the British Museum by Mr Tuccio as a memorial to the 311 Eritrean and Somali refugees who drowned when their boat capsized off the coast of Lampedusa. It is a symbol of individual suffering, courage, compassion and salvation, and stands witness to the humanity of those who care for the refugees as they travel in search of new lives.

Monday, 20 June 2016

My Lord, My Love

Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ)
Giotto di Bondone (1266/7 – 1337)
Scrovegni Chapel, Padua

O Love divine, what has thou done!
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father's coeternal Son
bore all my sins upon the tree.
Th' immortal God for me hath died:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Sunday, 19 June 2016

all things restored

Icon of the Theophany

Gracious Father,
by the obedience of Jesus
you brought salvation to our wayward world:
draw us into harmony with your will,
that we may find all things restored in him,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

[Collect : Fourth Sunday after Trinity]

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2016

Friday, 17 June 2016

de profundis

Pablo Picasso
The Tragedy (1903)

Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice:
let thine ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications.

Psalm 130
King James Bible

“My sister will die over and over again for the rest of my life. Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes a part of you, step for step, breath for breath. I will never stop grieving Bailey because I will never stop loving her. That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.”

Jandy Nelson, The Sky Is Everywhere

image : © 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS)

Thursday, 16 June 2016

trout that swim

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889)

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Lord of my heart

Pillar stone, Gallarus Oratory
County Kerry, Ireland

Be thou my vision,
O Lord of my heart,
Be all else but naught to me,
Save that thou art;
Be thou my best thought
In the day and the night,
Both waking and steeping,
Thy presence my light.

Traditional attr. St Dallan c.550

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

a heart without words

detached mosaic
from lost Oratory of John VII
 (Santa Maria Antiqua, June 2016)

In prayer it is better
to have a heart without words
than words without a heart.

John Bunyan

image : Alice Christie

Monday, 13 June 2016

ti benedica e ti custodisca

Legend of St Francis
Giotto di Bondone (1266 - 1337)
Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi.

Blessing of St Francis of Assisi

Il Signore ti benedica e ti custodisca,
mostri a te il suo volto
e abbia misericordia di te.
Rivolga verso di te il suo sguardo e ti dia pace.
Il Signore benedica te.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord show His face to you
and have compassion on you.
May He turn his face to you and give you peace.
May the Lord bless you.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

this wounded world

Master of the Passion of Darmstadt

God our saviour,
look on this wounded world
in pity and in power;
hold us fast to your promises of peace
won for us by your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

[Collect : Third Sunday after Trinity]

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

Friday, 10 June 2016

Salve Regina

Visitation Of Mary
Rogier van der Weyden (1400 - 1464)

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope.

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

bread of life

John 6 : 35

And Jesus said unto them,
I am the bread of life:
he that cometh to me shall never hunger;
and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

[King James Bible]

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

still me, O Lord

Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth (1842)
J.M.W. Turner

Calm me, O Lord, as You stilled the storm.
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease.
Enfold me, Lord, in Your peace.

© 2016 Northumbria Community

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

love alone

It is love alone that gives worth to all things.

St. Teresa of Ávila

image : Alice Christie

Monday, 6 June 2016

one bread

The Last Supper
Dieric Bouts (1415 – 1475)

Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

deepen our faithfulness

Faithful Creator,
whose mercy never fails:
deepen our faithfulness to you
and to your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

[Collect : Second Sunday after Trinity]

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

Friday, 3 June 2016

have mercy on us

Jesus, Lamb of God,
have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins,
have mercy on us.

Jesus, redeemer of the world,
grant us peace.

© Archbishops' Council 2016:

Thursday, 2 June 2016

wherever you go

Sir Kyffin Williams (1918 - 2006)

Wherever you go, there you are.

Thomas à Kempis (c1380-1471)
The Imitation of Christ

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

wide, sweet spaces

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1
(Whistler's Mother)
James McNeill Whistler
Musée d'Orsay

Lord, let not our souls be busy inns
that have no room for thee or thine,
But quiet homes of prayer and praise,
where thou mayest find fit company,
Where the needful cares of life
are wisely ordered and put away,
And wide, sweet spaces kept for thee;
where holy thoughts pass up and down
And fervent longings watch and wait thy coming.

Julian of Norwich (1341 - 1415)

Tuesday, 31 May 2016


I do not understand the mystery of grace,
only that it meets us where we are
and does not leave us where it found us.

Anne Lamott

image : Alice Christie

Monday, 30 May 2016

thy mighty glow

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52)

Thee, God, I come from, to thee go,
All day long I like fountain flow
From thy hand out, swayed about
Mote-like in thy mighty glow.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889)

image : © President and Fellows of Harvard College

Sunday, 29 May 2016

our mortal nature

Noah welcomes the dove back to the ark
Ely Cathedral

O God,
the strength of all those who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers
and, because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good thing without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in the keeping of your commandments
we may please you both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

[Collect : First Sunday after Trinity]

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

Friday, 27 May 2016

humble access

Detail from the Holy Blood Altar
St. Jakobs Church, Rothenburg
Tilman Riemenschneider (c.1460-1531)

We do not presume to come to this thy Table,
O merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness,
but in thy manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much as
to gather up the crumbs under thy Table.
But thou art the same Lord,
whose property is always to have mercy:
Grant us therefore, gracious Lord,
so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood,
that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body,
and our souls washed through his most precious blood,
and that we may evermore dwell in him,
and he in us.

Prayer of Humble Access
1662 version

Thursday, 26 May 2016

i thank you God

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings (1894–1962)

image : Alice Christie

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

morning star

The Starry Night
Vincent van Gogh

Christ is the morning star
who, when the night of this world is past,
brings to his saints the promise of the light of life
and opens everlasting day.

St. Bede (672 - 735)
from the Commentary on the Book of Revelation (c710)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

a few moments

P. S. Krøyer 1893

There should be, even in the busiest day, a few moments when we can close our eyes and let God possess us. There should be moments at least when we become more conscious of his presence, when we become more conscious of it as the only reality, the only thing that will last forever.

The Comforting of Christ
Caryll Houselander (1954)

quoted by Magdalen Smith in Fragile Mystics (2015)

Sunday, 22 May 2016

enlarge our minds

Lance McNeel

Holy God,
faithful and unchanging:
enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,
and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,
that we may truly worship you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Friday, 20 May 2016

sub tuum praesidium

Pietà of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon
Enguerrand Quarton
Musée du Louvre

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions in our necessities,
but deliver us always from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen


Thursday, 19 May 2016

something I can't not do

St Mary the Virgin, Wansford

Vocation at its deepest level is:

'This is something I can't not do,
for reasons I'm unable to explain to anyone else
and don't fully understand myself
but that are nonetheless compelling.'

Parker J. Palmer
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

image : Alice Christie

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

keep me

Apple Harvesting
Eric Ravilious
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Keep me as the apple of your eye.

Order for Compline, Common Prayer
© Archbishops' Council2016

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

the living garden

I understood that every flower created by Him is beautiful, that the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would no longer be enamelled with lovely hues. And so it is in the world of souls, Our Lord's living garden.

St. Thérèse de Lisieux

image : Alice Christie

Monday, 16 May 2016

how to find God

North Transept, Salisbury Cathedral
J.M.W. Turner

There is no better advice on how to find God
than to seek him where we left him:
do now, when you cannot find God,
what you did when last you had him,
and then you will find him again.

Meister Eckhart

image : © Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum

Sunday, 15 May 2016

holy fire

The Holy Spirit descends on Mary and the Apostles

Holy Spirit, sent by the Father,
ignite in us your holy fire;
strengthen your children with the gift of faith,
revive your Church with the breath of love,
and renew the face of the earth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[Collect : Day of Pentecost]

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

Friday, 13 May 2016

light and life

Water Lilies (1915-1926)
Claude Monet

Blessed are you, creator God,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As your Spirit moved over the face of the waters
bringing light and life to your creation,
pour out your Spirit on us today
that we may walk as children of light
and by your grace reveal your presence.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Morning Prayer, Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

Thursday, 12 May 2016

figuring it out

Woman Writing
Edouard Vuillard

It's not hard to decide
what you want your life to be about.
What's figuring out
what you're willing to give up
in order to do the things you really care about.

Shauna Niequist
Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

a voice calling

Rythme, Joie de Vivre (1931)
Robert Delaunay

Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God.

Thomas Merton (1915-68)

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

to find Your glory

Leaping Hare
Ian MacCulloch

We thank you Lord God
for the life and prayer
of your servant Melangell.
May her care and compassion
for all your creatures
inspire us in our day
with the same concern
for all You have made.
May we with her learn
to find Your glory
In the world around us
and in all that
You give us to do.
We ask this through
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer for St Melangell, early Welsh Abbess (c.641)

The legend of St Melangell describes how
she saved a wild hare from the hunt 
by covering it with her skirts while she prayed.
Her shrine at Cwm Pennant is still a place of pilgrimage.

Monday, 9 May 2016

a summary of Christian faith

Micro Engraving
Ephraim W. Bouvé, Boston, c. 1840

"If somebody said,
give me a summary of Christian faith
on the back of an envelope,
the best thing to do
would be to write Our Lord's Prayer."

Rowan Williams

Sunday, 8 May 2016

power and compassion

Risen, ascended Lord,
as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth
with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin
may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.

[Collect : Seventh Sunday of Easter]

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

Friday, 6 May 2016

when we were still far off

Silhouette on a country road
Henri-Joseph Harpignies (1819 – 1916)

Father of all, we give you thanks and praise that, when we were still far off, you met us in your Son and brought us home. Dying and living, he declared your love, gave us grace and opened the gate of glory. May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life; we who drink his cup bring life to others; we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world. Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us so we and all your children shall be free and the whole earth live to praise you name, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

Thursday, 5 May 2016

be with us today

Father in heaven,
you have given us
a mind to know you,
a will to serve you,
and a heart to love you.
Be with us today in all that we do,
so that your light may shine out in our lives.

St. Thomas More (1478-1535)

image : Alice Christie

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

pain and joy

Reflection of the Big Dipper
Jackson Pollock (1947)

Ministry means the ongoing attempt
to put one's own search for God,
with all the moments of
pain and joy, despair and hope,
at the disposal of those
who want to join this search
but do not know how.

Henri J.M. Nouwen

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

to seek you

The Harbor at Aden
John Taylor Arms (1887 - 1953)

Teach me to seek you
and show yourself to me as I seek;
for I am not able to seek you
unless you teach me;
nor am I able to find you
unless you show me the way.
Let me seek you in desiring you,
and desire you in seeking you.
May I find you in loving you,
and love you in finding you.

St. Anselm

Monday, 2 May 2016

the little daily dose

Tulip Stair
Queen's House, Greenwich

I sometimes pray not for self-knowledge in general
but for just so much self knowledge at the moment
as I can bear and use at the moment;
the little daily dose.

C.S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Sunday, 1 May 2016

fishers of men

"I shall make you fishers of men"

Risen Christ,
by the lakeside you renewed your call to your disciples:
help your Church to obey your command
and draw the nations to the fire of your love,
to the glory of God the Father.

[Collect : Sixth Sunday of Easter]

(detail of stained glass)
St Peter's Church, Kilmore Quay
image : Andreas F. Borchert via Wikimedia Commons

Common Worship
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

thou wast within

Conversion of St.Augustine
Fra Angelico

Belatedly I loved thee,
O Beauty so ancient and so new
belatedly I loved thee.
For see, thou wast within
and I was without,
and I sought thee out there.
Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly
among the lovely things thou hast made.
Thou wast with me, but I was not with thee.
These things kept me far from thee;
even though they were not at all
unless they were in thee.

The Confessions of St. Augustine

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

letter to Lulu

“To God how did you get invented? From Lulu xo ”

"Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn't expected.
I know he doesn't usually write letters, so I have to do the best I can on his behalf.
Lots of love from me too.

+Archbishop Rowan"

Extract from a letter to Lulu, aged 6, written by Archbishop Rowan Williams, subsequently published in The Times on Good Friday 2011

image : Alice Christie