Dear Members of our Parish Community
I never enjoyed sitting written examinations and sympathise with the younger members of our Community who may be or about to be engaged in this activity.
I always found that no matter how much preparation, revision and time I had invested in the subject matter, I suffered from ‘Examination Phobia”, as demonstrated by short term amnesia, triggered by the dreaded words: “Your time starts now….!” And then to add to the misery, the warning that there were 10 minutes left!!I
The experience of sitting down facing a blank sheet of paper, of being asked to demonstrate an understanding of the subject matter within a set time limit was intimidating, fraught and unpleasant. And then there was the post mortem and the growing suspicion, and even realisation that you probably misunderstood the questions. “”If only I had written this…” “Why did I write that…” And then there will be the friend who completely undermines any remaining shreds of confidence that you may have held on to, by suggesting that the Question Paper ‘was easy’.
Albert Einstein tried to put all this into perspective when he commented: ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid’. At times, I was that fish climbing the tree.
They say that there are no atheists on the battlefield. Fortunately, I cannot comment on the accuracy of that statement from first-hand experience, but I can testify to the power of prayer when taking Exams. Our Lady was always a source of comfort but there were two other saints who played an important role in any success I achieved: step forward St Jude and St Joseph of Cupertino.
St Jude, as the patron saint of hopeless causes, was an obvious choice. St Joseph of Cupertino is most famously known for his ability to levitate and his intense ecstatic visions. Appropriately for us living in and near Farnborough, Joseph is the patron of pilots, aviators and air travellers. Not an obvious choice of saint to approach for help - even for a struggling student in Farnborough - but St Joseph is also the patron saint for students, those taking examinations and those with learning difficulties.
St Joseph of Cupertino was easily distracted unless he was at prayer. He found it difficult to concentrate and struggled with his school work. People laughed at him and his lack of an education, and yet God had plans for Joseph. Despite his learning difficulties, Joseph became a Franciscan Friar and ordained priest. Paul tells us that “God chose those who by human standards are fools to shame the wise” This was the role God chose for St Joseph of Cupertino.
Unlike St Joseph of Cupertino, I cannot levitate. This would have been a useful gift when it came to removing thick cobwebs in the Hall from around the Crucifix and ceiling. Instead, Diane and Jim opted for the more traditional method of duster and brush on the end on a 9 metre extendable pole.
Many of us find it difficult to describe or talk about our personal relationship to God or our journeys of faith. Do not worry or be that fish attempting to climb the tree. God has a place and role for us in His Church. With St Joseph of Cupertino we can put ourselves in the hands of God and say: “You are the Spirit, and I am only the trumpet and without your breath I can give no sound”.
Our readings this weekend challenge us to reflect on how we as individuals, as disciples, as a Community, respond to God’s love for us. The first reading describes the turning point in Saul’s life when he encounters Jesus on the road to Damascus. From Saul the persecutor he became Paul the Apostle, committed to the spread of the gospel. In the second reading, John encourages us to translate the relationship we have with God into deeds. This message is repeated in the Gospel passage. We are united to Jesus and His life flows into us: our relationship with Him must then necessarily overflow in our commitment to others.
Keep safe. Keep smiling. God bless you.