Homily on power to heal

This Homily on the power to heal is another story that appears in my book and maybe helps us to think about the stories of healing in today’s readings (1 Kings 17:17-24 & Luke 7:11-17).

One of the shocks to my system in my early life as an Anglican clergyman was definitely a message from God! I was called to the hospital to visit a lady called Dorothy who had had a stroke.  She was in a bad way, paralysed down one side and unable to walk, she conveyed to me how frightened she was and how at night dark shapes where coming towards her from the bottom end of the bed. Now as a young modern Christian, I did not believe that prayer could affect the physical body. Prayer was a spiritual thing working through the mind. I was a dualist (as it is called) without realising it!  Anyway I felt strongly that prayer might well deal with those dark things coming for her, for this was clearly just in her mind. Prayers were said. In the Catholic manner these were accompanied by the laying on of hands and the anointing with oil. The next morning the shock came. I was right – the dark things had vanished and she had had a good night’s sleep, but something else had happened as well. She could walk! Never again did I make that mistake. The spiritual and the physical are intermingled in us humans and that is one of the reasons why prayer can be so powerful.

The problem of course is that prayer only appears to get answered occasionally. What most people forget is that if prayer is talking with God then we need to listen and not just talk. There is no point in asking for things just because we want them. What is far more important in life is to find out more clearly what God wants, and it is only within the discovery of this that we can sometimes get what we are asking for. It is therefore terribly important to always have in the back of our minds when we pray the words from the Our Father – Thy will be done. Praying like this can lead to surprising results because what God wills can be very different from what we want. True prayer is really trying to tune in to the immense power that God is, and if we get close enough then God’s power can pour through us like the release of a great weight of water when a dam bursts. This is surely because God has chosen to give us the freedom to act independently of him – this is what free will means. The power is there, like the radio waves that are all round us, but it is up to us, because we have free will, to decide whether to tune in or not.

On another occasion I was called to a lady in hospital because the doctors had said she only had a few days of life left. She was more or less dead. I prayed that God’s will should be done assuming that this would be a quick and easy death. Instead, she got better and went home and was given another year of life. One never knows what will happened when one prays.

In both cases I suppose I just found the right through which God’s healing power could work. Later I began to discover that a bit more sensitivity and a little less pride that I knew best tended to produce better results. But giving healing to people is always a hit or miss procedure. Sometimes you just tune in to God right and amazing things can happen, at other times, the prayer gives the person great spiritual comfort but not the physical healing they hoped for. Now I simply pray with and for people knowing that in one way or another even the smallest act of prayer and love helps.

 

 

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Homily on being loved & prayed for

We Christians quite rightly talk a lot about love, and we try to put into practice what Jesus taught us in today’s Gospel, (John 13:31-35) to “love one another just as I have loved you.” But very easily we turn that into something that we must do. I must be kind to those I meet. I must get on with those I work with. I must help the poor of the world. I must try to tolerate those who I do not like etc etc. Now this is all very fine and good, but there is one thing wrong with it. In order to love others, we must allow ourselves to be loved by them. If I fail to let others love me, even to do things for me, or fuss over me, in ways that I do not much like, I have not yet learnt to love the way Jesus loves.

I notice this particularly when, as today, I encourage people to come forward at the end of Mass for Prayers for healing. Oh yes, lots and lots of people come forward, and it’s very moving to see this ; but few of them ask for prayers for themselves, and if they do it is often as a modest afterthought – “Oh, and a little prayer for me too Father.” Now it is wonderful to know that in the heart of each Christian is so much concern for those who are sick or sad in some way; but we must not make that mean, that we are too modest to mention our own needs and ask for prayers for ourselves.  I even know of some people who like to keep their sickness a secret. Somehow they have got it into their heads that although they will pray for others, they would prefer others not to pray for them.

My guess is that they don’t want people to fuss, and I do understand that, because I find that difficult too. A priest has only to limp a little, or cough a bit too much, and endless people are coming up after Mass to show their concern and offer solutions. My instinct then is to minimise the problem – to say “Oh it’s nothing really.” –whatever it is – probably because I don’t want to be accused of being one of those irritating people who goes on and on about themselves and all their ailments! What I should do is simply accept their love.

Jesus has this problem too. The disciples fuss over him when he disappears early in the morning up in the hills to pray. He simply tells them, without criticising them, that they must all move on. The woman with the ointment comes into a public place and anoints his feet and dries them with her hair – so embarrassing! When others say he shouldn’t have allowed this, especially as the woman has a bad name, he gently defends her action. At Gethsemane he, Jesus the Son of God, with a unique relationship with God the Father, asks his weak disciples to pray for him. What good can their feeble prayers do, compared with his, especially as, just as he suspects, they fall asleep! And yet that is what he does.

Yes, Jesus loves us by allowing us weak silly humans with all our faults to love him, even to pray for him. God chooses to become a human being, and in so doing encourages us into a quite different relationship with him. Instead of simply loving us from a position of superiority, and expecting gratitude and praise and worship in return, he allows us to love him. We then must try to be like that. We must not just allow, but encourage others to pray for us, to love us. When we are sick or sad or facing some medical treatment, we have to overcome our shyness, our modesty, and ask others to pray for us. How dare we do otherwise? How can we spend time praying and caring for others, as if we are some special person distributing God’s love, and not allow them to pray and care for us?

True love is always a mutual thing – a giving and a receiving. We, the Church, must first of all be a community where that mutual love is shown. Have you the courage to turn to the person sitting near you at Mass, someone you may not know, or may only know a little, and ask them to pray for you? Do you ask to be put on the church’s prayer list when you are in need of prayer, or do you hide your problems because you do not want to make a fuss? Some people even say nothing, but are then upset when nobody appears to notice that they are suffering and need prayer. Jesus said “Ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you.”

Love is an immensely powerful force and when linked to prayer it becomes even more powerful, always bringing comfort and support and sometimes also bringing an amazing result for the person prayed for. But if we do not allow ourselves to be loved, if we do not ask for prayer, then we are failing to allow God’s love to come to us through others, and that’s sad, isn’t it?

Homily on Healing and Death

I was watching Warwick Davis talk about his life this week. He’s the famous actor who is a dwarf. His first major role was as the Chief Ewok in Star Wars, and he was in the Harry Potter Films too. He was asked how he copes with being so small, and also with the constant pain he is in that no-one can see. His answer was full of humour. He spoke of using his situation positively, of just getting on with life…. And he does.

I have shared a little of Warwick’s story, because when we talk about the power of God to heal, which we must do given our Gospel today, (Mark 10:46-52) we have to also remember that when we don’t get the healing we would like, when we have to go on living with some pain or disability; we should recognise that God will still be at work in us, in some way or another to help us to cope with whatever problem we are facing. It’s so important, isn’t it, and very Christian, however hard that may be, to have a positive attitude towards whatever situation we find ourselves in? Many people who are really ill, really in pain, or very disabled, are an inspiration to me, when I start moaning about my various aches and pains, and the fact that I cannot leap and run as I did when I was younger!

As many of you know, I have very occasionally  seen amazing cures when I have prayed for people, but I also know that others have gained great comfort and support in other ways, because God always desires to work his healing power in us in some way or other, even if he doesn’t always heal us in the way we might want. St Paul tells us that he learnt to live with his disability his weakness, so that his weakness might demonstrate God’s power. (2 Cor 12:8-10)

So do not hesitate to come forward for healing when it is offered, because, whatever the problem is, in some way, through these prayers, God will open your eyes to what he is doing to help you and support you. And yes, like the blind man in our Gospel do not be afraid to shout at God “Jesus, have pity on me!”

For many years the Sacrament of Healing, where the Priest uses anointing with oil as well as laying on hands, had become restricted just to people who were actually dying, and this might mean that some of you fail to ask the priest to do this, either because you think you are not ill enough, or  because you are frightened that it might suggest that you are dying! Nowadays, anyone facing a bad illness, or an operation, can be anointed, and many are, and receive great support from the Sacrament. But even those who think they are dying need not give up hope, because on one occasion I anointed someone who I (and the Doctors!) thought was dying, only to see her get better!

As Christians, we also need to adopt a positive attitude to death, don’t we? Too many people do not face up to the fact that one day they are going to die, often thinking that if they even mention it, it somehow makes it more inevitable. Catholics are not meant to be superstitious like this about death or anything else. Indeed superstition of any kind is regarded as a sin, because it demonstrates a lack of trust in God. Trusting in God as we do, knowing that Jesus has defeated death, we do not have to hide from the reality of death. As one of our 90 year old parishioners said to me the other day, “We all have to die of something Father!” That’s an attitude we all could imitate.

Have you noticed how most Doctors find dealing with death rather difficult, unless they are working in a Hospice or in Palliative Care? Partly it is surely because their whole aim is to cure people. But maybe it is also our fault, because of this fear of talking openly about death. A nun I know who is dying was most amused when her Doctor plucked up the courage to suggest that she might begin to prepare for the end. She said “Well yes, but that’s what I have been doing all my life.” – which surprised him. Amazing ignorance really! But we Catholics are not on the whole as good at this as this Nun and I have learnt this more than once, when good Catholics have been shocked when I showed them where I will be buried!

So please remember this, God heals in many different ways, sometimes giving a miraculous cure, sometimes inner peace or strength, and at some time, for all of us, what St Francis calls Sister Death. And yes it is a great privilege as a priest to help someone to die – to say the prayers and see them just gently slip away to be with the Lord. But remember too, that whatever way God heals, we must not expect to go back to the way we were. The Blind man forgets the past and now with his sight restored, he follows Jesus along the road. And so must we.

Homily on the Holy Spirit and the Church

One of the main reasons why the Church encourages us to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary is not just because she is the mother of Jesus, but more because she is the Mother of the Church. We know this because of the book in the Bible called the Acts of the Apostles, which tells the story of the Church after the death and resurrection of Jesus. There we discover, that Our Lady was not just at the foot of the cross when Jesus died, but was with the disciples and the other women every day after that, as they met for prayer. (Acts 1:14) So Our Lady was there on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when the Holy Spirit came upon them all with great power. That day, which we will celebrate on the 24th May this year is rightly called the Birthday of the Church.

So, by honouring Mary as the mother of all Christians, as our mother, we are reminded that we, the Church, are a family, and that it is as a family that Christians receive the Holy Spirit most powerfully to give us the courage to go out and live our lives for Jesus every day. Jesus uses another image in our Gospel today. (John 15:1-8) He says that we are all part of one Vine. In other words, our links with one another, as fellow members of the Church, must be as close as the branches of a plant are to one another, and to the whole plant of which we are part.

Every single person can be good and kind, that is a natural part of being human, given to everyone by God whether they believe in God or not. But we Christians are called to be more than that, to bring God’s love to others in a special way. And that is what Jesus means when he says that we must all bear fruit.

Think of what happened last week when many people here in Eynsham came forward and asked for prayers of healing, either for themselves, or for a loved one who was sick or in trouble. You all know that if you tell the person who is sick that you did this for them, they will feel it far more powerfully than if you simply say that you have been praying for them as an individual, privately. Similarly if you ask me to offer a Mass for someone, if they are sick or if they have died, the Holy Spirit works more powerfully in our prayers together, than our prayer alone.

It is the same when we speak to people about our faith. It is one thing to say to someone that God loves all of us, that God loves Muslims and Hindus and peoples of all faiths and not just Christians. It is quite different when we say that this is the teaching of the whole Church. I feel this particularly as someone who was once a Church of England Vicar. Sadly the C of E does not have a central core of teaching as the Catholic Church has : what is called the Magisterium. As an Anglican Vicar I could preach many things that were, I hope, good and true, but I could not say “And this is the teaching of the Church.”  As a Catholic priest I can say that, and it is one of the reasons why I became a Catholic so many years ago. As Catholics, we can back up our statement about our faith by referring people to what the Church actually teaches, best seen in the Catechism. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm. These things are not just my belief as an individual, they are what we believe together, they are the official teaching, the Magisterium, of the Church.

That is why in the Creed we immediately follow “I believe in the Holy Spirit etc” with “I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church”. The Holy Spirit is the power that gave birth to the Church at Pentecost, and it is through the Church, through us as members of the Church, as part of the Vine, that the Holy Spirit works most powerfully in many different ways. Our words, our little and perhaps faltering words of faith or encouragement or love, shared with someone who needs them, may not seem much to us,  but are made powerful simply because we are Catholics – we are members of the Church meeting week by week for prayer together in the special way Jesus taught us, in the Holy Mass.

So although we may say something to others about the faith that seems quite small to us, it can be of enormous significance to them. And when we do that we are, you may be surprised to hear, being prophetic, exercising the gift of prophecy that Paul speaks of when he lists the gifts of the Spirit in his letter to the Corinthians. (1 Cor 12:8-11)  In the more traditional list of the Gifts of the Spirit that some of you will have learnt as children, we are exercising both the gift of understanding, as we absorb the teaching of Christ week by week, and of fortitude or courage as we share it with others.

There is however a third list that Paul uses when he writes to the Ephesians. (4:11-13) Here he makes even clearer the link with the life of the Church because he points out that when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us, not only are we given these gifts by the Church, but in using them we are actually helping to build up the Church, to build up one another in the faith. Paul writes “his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God”

So, our little attempts to share the love of God with others, and to do that as faithful members of the Church, actually helps the whole Church to be more fully and completely the body of Christ.  As we heard in our 2nd Reading (1 John 3:18-24) “Our love is not to be mere talk, but something real and active”. This is how God lives in us, he says and he concludes “We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.”

All healing is the work of God

One of the reasons why some people find it hard to believe in God is because they think of God only as a power outside the natural world. I hope these Homilies on God as Holy Spirit are helping you to realise that what we need to do first is to find God in the natural world, and in the natural things that happen to us, and only then see that where we humans open up to God’s presence in this way, then things can happen to us and to others that are at least remarkable if not miraculous. Last week, for example, I was speaking about how our sensitivity to the needs of others can be enhanced by prayer, so that we are guided by God the Holy Spirit to say the appropriate words or to do the right thing that can really help people. This becomes even more obvious when we think about the healing power that God provides us, that I want to talk about today.

Our problem nowadays is that the advances in medicine in the last 150 years have completely changed the way most people think about healing. Until medicine changed in this way, it was easy to see any sudden and dramatic improvement in the health of a sick person as the work of God. Now that we understand so much better the biochemistry of the human body, there is a tendency to say that if we can explain why someone has got better in biochemical terms, then God isn’t involved.   

We have an example in today’s 1st Reading (Acts 4:8-12). Peter has just healed a cripple and is explaining that he has done this in the name of the Risen Lord Jesus. At the time, no-one would have doubted that such a sudden ability of a cripple to walk was the work of God, but the question was “Which god?”  Nowadays, of course, many would say that it was simply “psychological”, all in the mind. Peter just happened to press the right button in the mind of the cripple, choosing to tell him to get up and walk – just as Jesus did on many occasions – and that was it.

The problem with this argument is that it misunderstands God. Let’s start with something simple. If I cut myself, I will clean the wound, put on a plaster and usually the cut heals itself. Has God done anything?  The answer is “Yes he has”, because God the Holy Spirit is the Lifegiver working within the natural processes of the body to bring us healing. If we move on to more dramatic healings, we know that how sick people “think” about themselves, and the possibility of getting better makes a tremendous difference to their recovery. Equally, we know that care and support from family and friends can also be incredibly significant. The Doctors may say to a paralysed man “I’m afraid you will always be in a wheelchair”, but sometimes the grit and determination to walk, can surprise the doctors.

We Christians would say, that just because this healing came from the mind, from the mind of the sick person, and from the minds of those supporting him or her, doesn’t stop it being the work of God. We would argue that God is always at work in the healing processes of the mind and the body, because after all it is he who created them. But we would argue further that prayer, which is opening up to this power that is God working within us and around us, in our minds and our bodies, and in the loving support of family and friends, always helps this process, sometimes in remarkable ways.

Our other readings today (1 John 3:1-2 and John 10:11-18) tell us of God’s love for us. But what we need to realise from this, is that this love is shown mostly in the way God is at work in the ordinary events of life. Modern medicine is actually one of the products of believing that God is a consistent and loving life-giving force that we can harness for our good once we understand it. If God was an erratic power out there somewhere – sometimes deciding to zap in to help a sick person get better, and at other times deciding not to – then there would have been no point in all the scientific studies that have so improved medical treatments. So, when the doctors are at work on us, when they give us medicine or a treatment or an operation that makes us better, we need to say, as in our Psalm today “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.”

Prayer isn’t magic, as in Harry Potter, where if you say exactly the right words and wave your wand in exactly the right way, then the spell works. Prayer is opening ourselves, and those we pray for, to the power of God that is at work in us and them whether we pray or not.

Some of you have heard my story of how I prayed for a person dying of cancer and, much to my surprise, she recovered. Some would say I just struck lucky. She was going to go into remission anyway, as some cancer patients do. But we never know, and that is why we must pray. I believe that my prayers, with the laying on of hands, for that woman was the trigger that activated the remission that she experienced. God’s love works in us and through us in all sorts of ways and that is why we must never stop praying. All of us can offer healing prayers, and they can sometimes produce amazing results and are always a comfort.

God’s love also works in a special way through the power given to the priest to administer the Sacraments, many of which like the Blessed Sacrament at Mass, not just the Sacrament of Healing, can bring support and peace to those facing trouble or sickness or imminent death. None of this is magic, because God the Holy Spirit is the Creative power at work within the natural processes of life, and everything good that happens is the work of God. May we allow ourselves to be part of that process, to let God work in us. Our prayer may seem to have no effect where sickness continues, but we never know; and that is why we must carry on praying whatever the result appears to be.

Homily on the fact that we all need help

It’s easy to suggest that if only everybody made the effort to be good, and to stop being bad, then the world’s problems would be solved. There are many Christian texts that support this view. St Paul writes “Everybody must be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself.” (Phil 2:2) But although there are many texts like this, St Paul also makes it clear that however hard we humans try to be good, we do not always succeed. He knows this because before he became a Christian he was one of those very strict Jews, that Jesus was often in conflict with, called the Pharisees. They had a very strict code of life and believed that being perfect was possible.

St Paul certainly wanted people to aim to be perfect, but also to face the reality that something more was needed if people were to be acceptable to God. He writes, For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.… For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my body another law at war with the law of my mind.” (Romans 7:19-23) I expect we all know what that is like, when we get irritable with people we live with, and make some cutting remark, or even lose our temper and say things that later we regret. Then we might, with St Paul again say, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) Well maybe we wouldn’t be as dramatic as that, but we certainly wish at times like these that there was something that would stop us when we go over the top like this, and hurt someone we love!

Christianity is based on this view that however hard we humans try, sometimes we will fail. Jesus knew this only too well which is surely why he expresses again and again how much God loves us even when we mess up. It is however absolutely central to our Christian faith that we admit that we fail, that unlike some people out there in the world, we do not have a “so what” attitude. Some of you may have seen that shown on the TV recently, when a man was found parking in a disabled space, who when challenged simply said “So what?”- thus displaying no sense that he might have done something wrong. This ignorance of what is right and what is wrong is normal in a tiny child. Gradually, good parents teach their children about caring about others and sharing what they have. What is sad is that some are either never taught or never learn, and carry on being selfish even when they are adults. At its worst that leads to the violence and war that is reported to us every day, and we just wish would not happen.

Of course we think that we’re not like that, don’t we? And that is our danger. That we begin to think that we, unlike those other people, are good and kind all the time, and conveniently forget the other times when we have failed, as well as the many other times when we could have done good but didn’t. Then, we are like the son in another story told by Jesus, who said he would go and work in the vineyard, but failed to go. (Matt 21:28-32)

We Christians have a couple of technical terms that we use to describe this situation in which we find ourselves – with war and violence around us, and the failings that we can’t cope with within us. We call the whole messy situation “The Fall”. This comes from the idea that God intended us to be good and perfect from the beginning, but by giving us free will, also allowed us to fail. And fail we did! It’s expressed in the story told at the beginning of the Bible (Genesis 2:15-3:19) where the story teller imagines man and woman living originally in a beautiful garden in perfect harmony with each other and with the world around them. But then they become aware of other things they could do that were not good, and so everything goes wrong and they have to leave the garden for the big hard world outside. Yes – the story of Adam and Eve. That’s the Fall.

Our second technical term is the one we use to describe the way each of us seems programmed to mess up sometimes, despite our best intentions. We call this “original sin”. This is not the same as “the sins” – plural – that we commit. By sins we mean all our imperfections and failures, not just very bad things. No, original sin (singular) is something in all of us humans that we cannot solve, that leave us like St Paul, from earlier, saying  “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  Death!- you might say – surely it’s not as bad as that? Well yes it is, because we Christians believe that if we are to be with God in eternal life when we die, we must be perfect as he is perfect, and that is just what we cannot be, despite our best efforts. And the alternative to eternal life is eternal death.

Next week I am going to talk about the Christian solution to this mess, this problem that we humans find ourselves in; but in order for that to make sense we have to accept that we need a solution, that we need to be delivered, or to be saved – as we sometimes say. This is why we disagree with humanists and atheists. They can often be very good people – sometimes better than us – but they believe that humanity can save itself – that it is just a matter of everyone being kinder and more loving, and then the world will be at peace.

We Christians say that to think like that is to be like someone who is really ill, but doesn’t ask for help from a Doctor. People like that, who try to carry on, are simply stubborn fools who end up making the situation worse for themselves, even fatal, and make it worse for their family and friends too. We all need to ask others for help often, to be mutually interdependent – “to have a common purpose and common mind” – but we also need to turn to help from those who have the means to cure us – the Doctor if we are ill – but God – the invisible power of love – for the rest.

Filled with the Spirit

Pope Francis went to a Football Stadium in Rome last week, and met 50,000 Italians. You might think they were all there to watch a game of football; after all, the Pope along with most Italians does love the game – although he will be supporting a different team from them in the World Cup. But no, those 50,000 Italian Catholics were actually all there to pray, and specifically to be open to the power of God the Holy Spirit in their lives. They are part of a movement in the Church called Charismatic Renewal.

“Oh dear” I hear some of you say, “Those are the happy-clappies, aren’t they – waving their hands in the air and getting all emotional – embarrassing!” Yes in speaking to them, the Pope said that at first he too was deeply suspicious of ‘charismatics”, as they are called, but that he came to realize their value to the Church, because the movement they belong to, at is best and guided by the teaching of the Church, concentrates on reminding the Church of how powerfully the Holy Spirit can work in us if we open ourselves to that power.

The word “charismatic” comes from our 2nd Reading today. (1 Cor 12:3-13) Paul writes in Greek, of course, and in Greek our word “Gift” – “There are a variety of gifts.” –  is the word “charism”. Like the Pope, and maybe some of you, I too got involved in this Renewal many years ago, because I recognized that we all need to discover, or rediscover, the truth, that when the Holy Spirit works in us, we must realize that it may enable us to do or say things that take us beyond where we are in our ordinary lives. A bit of me remains deeply sceptical of something that encourages too much emotion in people; but like the apostles at Pentecost as in our 1st Reading (Acts 2:1-11), we may all find times in our lives when the right amount of power applied by God more to our emotional side than our rational side, can be, as St Paul says, “for a good purpose”

For me, the Charisms, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that I have been most aware of, are the Gift of Healing, and the Gift of Knowledge. I have quite often shared with you the few moments in my life when my very ordinary and everyday work as a priest, of praying for someone who is ill, has produced amazing and unexpected results. You too may have heard of such things happening, not least at places of pilgrimage like Lourdes.

This is why I offer times of healing after Sunday Mass in Eynsham twice a year, and why, I assume, so many come forward. Mostly, this just brings a sense of comfort and support, but sometimes it can do something more spectacular. The way healing works in us humans is never just physical, as all the best doctors and nurses realize. So the healing power of God works not just through all the great medical advances of the last 100 years, but is also partly a less understood work in our hearts and minds.  It is important to realize that God is at work in all aspects of the healing process, and to be open to this.

The other Gift is what is called the Gift of Knowledge. This is knowledge of God, of his presence and power and guidance in our lives. Again, this is something that I used to be very sceptical about, thinking that I should work out what to do next with the rational part of my mind, but again I have gradually become aware that using my intuition in a God-inspired way must be part of that process.

Both these things can attract people who just want to impress others and/or make money out of us. This was true in biblical times and is also true today. That’s why St Paul says it must all be done “for a good purpose.” The ways God as Holy Spirit works in us can be very mysterious, but the fruits of the Spirit must be there too – as St Paul says (Gal 5:22-23) they are “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Let us always – “Think on these things.” (Phil 4:8)