In the face of such a terrible tragedy to hit the people of Oklahoma and such loss of life…We are praying. May God be with all those affected by this disaster – and all those who are now offering help and comfort…We are with you in heart and in prayer and we will continue to pray for you…
From Thursday May 9th to Monday May 13th Tyas and I made a pilgrimage to a number of places where there are shrines of Mary. This pilgrimage is our thanksgiving for Tyas’ novitiate which comes to an end in early July. We were able to get to several of the most famous shrines in this area – in fact we made “a novena of visits” – nine shrines in all. It was lovely to spend time in praying in those sacred places made holy by love, prayer and devotion to Our Lady. Thank you Lord – for Tyas – our soon to be professed FCJ. Thank you Mary for being our guide and inspiration. “Our Good Mother, beg of your Divine Son to give us His blessing and please give us yours also…”
Often my ministry is a very ‘out there’ sort of thing – I am constantly meeting new people and working at a variety of levels with them. Sometimes I am presenting something, giving a talk answering questions, other times I am working at a much deeper level with an individual, listening to their story, to their hopes and dreams.
But there are also days when I am just at home, at the desk, working on the computer. My desk looks out to our garden and I am surrounded by trees and birds. It is a lovely haven really – a place to be contemplative. In the garden we have a pond too – and at this point of the year it is teeming with life – frogs, fish, water snails and countless other creatures that come to visit – the neighbourhood cats, a pair of foxes, and our resident robins all drop by regularly for a drink or a spot of hopeful fishing.
For me this abundant spot is a reminder when I am stuck inside at the desk, that no matter where I am, or what I am doing LIFE is just waiting to be noticed!
It was the turn of our Basic Ecclesial Community to form the choir for evening Mass today – Sunday 5th May. Barbara, Tyas and I joined the choir. We were well prepared having had four choir practices during the course of the last month. I really enjoyed the practices which were a lot of fun and which always ended with tea and refreshments! It was a great experience to sing at Mass this evening – it was lovely being part of a group with such a common purpose. The young woman who was conducting drew the music out of us with sensitivity and enthusiasm and she skillfully pulled us through a few tricky points! The service flowed beautifully. We had the extra gift of being inspired by a visiting priest who told us about his life as a missionary in Papua New Guinea. What a blessed evening! Thank God for Church, for the Eucharist, for music and singing!
I am looking out of the window in our community house in the centre of Bucharest. It is early morning and still cool although the day will be hot later. From the balcony I can see a beautiful wooden church surrounded by trees and grass, overshadowed by a 20storey office block. The church was brought from the country during communist times as a museum piece, probably taken from one of the villages considered unproductive. It seems now that even in that destructive act there can be resurrection… now as I see it it is like a little haven of peace and a witness to a less frenetic world as it sits right at the heart of this busy city.
But to surrender ever more deeply
To freedom and joy.
To hold ourselves hostage from love.
That may not strengthen
Your precious budding wings.
From anyone likely
To put a sharp knife
Into the sacred, tender vision
Of your beautiful heart.
Those aspects of obedience
That stand outside of our house
And shout to our reason
“O please, O please,
Come out and play.”
Or to confine our wondrous spirits,
Our divine courage, freedom and
To mark the Year of Faith one of our local parish churches is hosting a series of twelve meetings on Vatican II. Tyas and I are attending them. It is good formation for Tyas as part of her novitiate and a great “mini renewal” for me! So far there have been three meetings: 1. An Introduction to Vatican II 2. Liturgy and 3. The Church. The input has been really good – a refreshing reminder of the depth and beauty of our Church! It is so good to spend this time with a hundred or so others all of whom are keen to know more about the Church. Already I am looking forward to next week’s input!
This year my ministry involves a lot of travel, so today I am here at the airport in Shannon ready to fly home to London.
I’ve learned to like airports – the comings and goings, delays, stresses - people excited, people sad or worried. You see it all! I have learned to find space for myself in an airport – sort of suspended between one thing and the next. Often I sit and watch people, pray, catch up with a bit of reading. There is something peaceful here – peace in the inability to move things on any faster – in the fact that all I can do is wait.
This last weekend I was in our retreat house in Spanish Point – one of the most beautiful places I can imagine. It is on the Atlantic Coast and from every window in the house you get a view of the sea in all its glory!
I was there with a group of young adults for a retreat weekend. One of the things which struck me was just how important it is for us to find communities of faith – places where we can feel supported and where we can support others in their spiritual lives. So much of life can be overrun with anxiety, busyness, doubt… that to find a contemplative moment or space can be like an oasis.
May we find these moments in our own lives… and be a contemplative space for others too.
I am copying a piece from Pope Francis’ homily during Mass for Vatican City government staff. He is encouraging us all to reject gossip in developing a “new life” based on the Gospel. I have copied this extract from “Cath News” a great news resource for the Catholic Church based in Australia. Read on…Let’s see if we can face this challenge (and it IS a challenge!) together!!!
“Pope Francis said: “The first Christian community is a timeless model for the Christian community of today, because they were of one heart and one soul, through the Holy Spirit who had brought them into a “new life”.
Through the Holy Spirit, the Pope said, “we are born into the new life which we have received in Baptism.”
“We have to do all we can to ensure that our life develops into new life”, which may be “a laborious journey” but one that “depends chiefly on the Holy Spirit” as well as our ability to be “open to his breath”.
However, there are struggles along the way, the Pope warned.
“When we prefer to gossip, gossip about others, criticize others- these are everyday things that happen to everyone, including me – these are the temptations of the evil one who does not want the Spirit to come to us and bring about peace and meekness in the Christian community”.
“These struggles always exist” in the parish, in the family, in the neighborhood, among friends”. Instead through the Spirit we are born into a new life, he makes us “meek, charitable.”
He then outlined the correct behavior for a Christian. First, “do not judge anyone” because “the only Judge is the Lord.” Then “keep quiet” and if you have something to say, say it to the interested parties, to those “who can remedy the situation,” but “not to the entire neighborhood.”
“If, by the grace of the Holy Spirit – concluded Pope Francis – we succeed in never gossiping, it will be a great step forward” and “will do us all good”.” Cath News, Wednesday 10th April, 2013.