Monday, 16 February 2015



A sermon from The Oratory, Larne for 15th February 2015.

For nearly as long as Christianity has existed monasteries and monks have existed - going right back to the days of the THE DESERT FATHERS and THE DESERT MOTHERS.

Many of us are well aware of the three VOWS that monks take:

POVERTY: The vow to own nothing personally but to own all in common.

CHASTITY: The vow to refrain from loving one lover exclusively - in order to love all equally.

OBEDIENCE: The vow to see God's will reflected in obeying the orders or your "superiors".

Of course we all know of monks who do not keep these vows - the monks who have personal bank accounts and credit cards; the monks who have a man or woman as a lover and the monks who are far from obedient.

These monks are like us all when we break promises and do not keep resolutions.

But there is a FOURTH VOW that some monks take that we are not as well acquainted with - the VOW OF STABILITY - where a monk vows to live in the same monastery until the day he dies.

The vow of stability is an interesting vow. It is a vow not to be a ROLLING STONE - and the old adage does say:

"A rolling stone gathers no moss".

In other words we can gain a lot of wisdom and virtue by staying put; staying still; not on the move.


One of the problems of modern life and of modern men and women is the problem of

- the need for new forms of stimulation.

- the constant desire for new "thrills".

- the constant need for new pleasures.

- the constant need for new excitement.

And in this kind of culture its so easy for us to lose sight of values like FAITHFULNESS; COMMITMENT and FIDELITY.

Its not easy to get up every morning at seven and head for work - day in, day out, year in, year out.

Its not easy to have to get up every morning for decades and make the breakfast.

Its not easy to clock in every morning for 50 years.

Its not easy to listen to the same head on the pillow beside you snoring every night for a lifetime.

But these are the things that make the world work. These things put the bread and milk on the supermarket shelf every day. This is what makes the 8.30 bus arrive every morning. This is what puts the money in the bank to pay the bills.  This is what makes the shops and banks and offices open every day.

And in fact it is these boring and unadventurous  things - done over a life time - that turns us all into everyday "saints".

Because even in the 21st century:

"A saint is not somebody who does extraordinary things.

A saint is someone who does ordinary things with extraordinary love".

All of us here today are here because we are TRYING to be CHRISTIANS.

All of us here today hope that after lives of LOVE and SERVICE we will join God in Heaven.

But where do we find the Gates of Heaven?

They are not to be found is the film studios around Holywood.

They are not to be found on the podium of the BAFTA AWARDS.

They are not to be found on the television or on the front pages of newspapers.

The Gates of Heaven are found:

- Beside the kitchen sink and the kitchen cooker.

- They are found at the bus driver's seat.

- They are to be found in the pocket of the waitress' apron.

- They are to be found at the teacher's desk.

- They are to be found beside the carpenter's hammer.

- They are to be found beside the mechanic's wrench.

- They are to be found where the nurse places the bed pan in the sluice room.

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
Since I've no time to be
A saint by doing lovely things or
Watching late with thee,
Or dreaming in the twilight or
Storming heaven's gates.
Make me a saint by getting meals or
Washing up the plates.

Although I must have Martha's hands,
I have Mary's mind, and,
When I black the boots and shoes 
Thy sandals, Lord, I find. 
I think of how they trod the earth 
What time I scrub the floor, 
Accept this meditation, Lord, 
I haven't time for more.

Warm all the kitchen with thy love, 
And light it with thy peace, 
Forgive me all my worrying 
And make all grumbling cease. 
Thou who didst love to give men food 
In room or by the sea 
Accept this service that I do 
I do it unto thee.

We humans should be keenly aware of the importance and goodness of the daily grind.

We Christians should be aware of the holiness of our everyday actions.

Because here - right here - are the Gates of Heaven.

+Pat Buckley

1 comment:

  1. Dear Bishop,

    Thank you for sharing your sermon from yesterday. It was refreshing and thought provoking.

    My parish priest went on and on yesterday about giving things up for Lent and giving the money saved into the parish collection.

    It was almost the same sermon I heard 50 years ago.

    A. Belfast.