Holy days

Writing the prayer intentions for the summer months was one of my last jobs before the holidays. It is finished! This is a list of dates which help in grounding our sometimes mis-directed faith thoughts and instincts into the real experience of the Church past and present. The intentions provide a plan for each day – to pray for the saint or blessed person named on that particular day (sometimes there is no name in which case it becomes a ‘free day’ or feria in Latin. Because the church is  charged with caring for the souls living within the parish, each road (and therefore household) is prayed for – this cycle takes about 3 months. We pray that God is made present to the residents of that road, that they may know his blessing. Finally, the intentions themselves are conceived through an association with the saint on a particular day. For example on 29th July, we commemorate the lives of the family from Bethany – Mary, Martha & Lazarus. The intention for that day is therefore to pray for hospices and places of respite care as we remember the care that this family gave Jesus and how Jesus offered his healing to them. So, each day has a meaning, like the heading for this blog site – A Blog for all Seasons: Pilgrimage into the Everyday.

Every day can become a holy day. It would be a shame if we lost the connection between holy days and holidays. We don’t need to go away to the seaside and eat ice creams to enjoy the significance of holy days. We are all called by God – at all times and in all places – called to retreat, to refresh and renew ourselves to become like holidaymakers in a noisy world of busy-ness. When on holiday we allow ourselves to remove the burdens of our lives and take time to see life from a calmer, clearer perspective. This clarity of being leads us closer into God’s presence. Last week, the prayer of intention for 19th July was for Gregory of Nyssa. He reminds us that “God is met not to be an object to be understood, but as a mystery to be loved.” No surprise that on this day, the intention was to pray for people exploring vocations!

“God is met not to be an object to be understood, but as a mystery to be loved.” (Gregory of Nyssa, teacher of the faith, whose day is commemorated 19th July)

Holidays are holy days providing a sense of re-creation

Vocation and vacation are closely related. Holy days or holidays provide the space to think again about our lives and that mystery called God will not be far away in that space. Holy days can therefore be catalysts for change as we learn from the wisdom of saints in the past, we might better determine our future in God.  One aspect of parish life that I will be reflecting over on holiday is the growth of the vocational life of our church community, specifically, the identification of gifts whereby we develop personal responsibility for the cultivation of the faith-life of the church. Many churches and fellowships have benefited from a small group focus – meetings in the week which offer a variety of activities to feed the community. These may include a group which reflects on literature and scripture, another that offers a silent space for contemplative prayer, another that exercises a passion for art and crafts, another that shares in the outdoor work of church gardening. These are the daily activities of vocation and vacation which should be inter-woven into the tapestry of parish life. I wonder if this is a holiday whim or a real plan for growth in our parish? That is a vocational question that I would like you to ponder this vacation! Bless you all this summer as you make time to seek the mystery of the all-loving God.

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Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.