MARIA AND CECILIA’S THIRTY DAY RETREAT: WE ARE NOW IN WEEK FOUR

February 12, 2018 by

Cecilia and Maria are now in Week Four of the retreat and they are praying for the joy and consolation of meeting the Risen Christ. We are steadily praying our way to the end of the retreat. Thank you for the prayer – we pray for you each day.

MARIA AND CECILIA’S THIRTY DAY RETREAT: WEEK THREE – WALKING THE WAY OF THE CROSS…

February 7, 2018 by

We are now well into Week Three of the retreat and Maria and Cecilia are walking the way of the cross with Jesus. This is a challenging time. As our energies begin to wane the material for prayer is increasingly heartrending. Thank you for your prayers so far – your support in the spirit is tangible. We keep you in our prayer too.

The world is DEFINITELY getting better

February 4, 2018 by

I know someone who is a profound pessimist. Life, the world and even their cup is at least half empty, getting worse, going to the dogs! I, on the other hand, am an optimist… I am full of hope. I almost can’t help hoping. I naturally see the potential in things and find it easy to find a positive side to life.

Another thing that my friends know about me – I hate plastic. Mostly I hate it because it gets everywhere and causes such pollution and destruction, but I also hate it because it is so unavoidable. (Recently I discovered that there is even plastic in teabags!)

Turtle and Plastic in the Ocean

Imagine then the effect on me of Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 documentary series – the incredible and at times jaw-dropping beauty of the planet and the impact of plastics even in the deepest parts of our oceans. I think all who have seen that documentary series must surely have been incredibly moved by it.

Which brings me to the title of this post – as human beings we seem capable of immense destruction and carelessness, but also of tremendous compassion and a capacity to change

. Here in the UK countless companies, individuals and even the government have begun the steps towards change – who knows whether we will as a world community have the courage of our convictions, but our growing awareness is a great sign of hope!

CECILIA AND MARIA’S THIRTY DAY RETREAT: EVERYDAY WISDOM I

February 2, 2018 by

When we arrived in the retreat centre the gardeners were in the process of felling a large old tree. The tree was no longer sound and sadly needed to be cut down. Most of the tree was removed from the garden except for a piece of the trunk that protruded from the ground. It took more than two weeks for the gardeners to remove that last bit of trunk and some of the larger roots: piece by piece. They took turns using traditional tools. They worked long and hard, hour after hour. It struck me how sometimes we have to work for a long time to gain some degree of spiritual freedom. I wondered how many tiny roots were still in the ground waiting for the opportune moment to emerge and raise their stubborn heads – exactly capturing the unfinished work that is the human heart. How good it is to know that we are forever and always God’s true love.

At peace with myself

January 27, 2018 by

One of our neighbours suffers with chronic illness and from time to time calls round to have a coffee and a chat. Recently we were having a conversation about my ministry with young people, and as I explained some of what my work involves we began to talk about the challenge that many young people face in coming to a sense of their own self worth.

The conversation moved on to how and where we find meaning and purpose in our lives, and how many of us define ourselves by what we do. For my neighbour living with chronic illness, ‘doing’ and achieving are very limited. Their sense of purpose has to be rooted somehow in their own inherent value as a person.

This got me thinking about illness, infirmity, memory loss, old age… and the challenge of coming to a sense of inner worth which does not rely on any external. This isn’t a task for our old age but one that we must begin from early on… constantly challenging all that says ‘I am only worthy if I can be productive’.

Our faith tells us over and over again that we are loved, forgiven, chosen and called; that we don’t need to earn Gods love; and that we can never fall beyond it. The Spiritual Exercises invite us to rest in that realisation, letting our action and service be a response of love rather than a required sacrifice.

 

MARIA AND CECILIA’S THIRTY DAY RETREAT – KNOWING CHRIST

January 26, 2018 by

Maria and Cecilia are now in ‘Week Two’ of their retreat. During this time they are called to grow more and more deeply in love of Christ: ‘To know Jesus intimately, to be able to love him more intensely, and so to follow him more closely’ (Fleming). It is lovely to see them move onwards into the retreat with such enthusiasm. We are so grateful for your prayers, your support is tangible. We pray for you each evening.

As We Are – praying the First Week of the Exercises

January 24, 2018 by

The Principle and Foundation begins the Exercises of St Ignatius, leading us to a deep understanding of who we are and what we are created for.

Then as we move through the First Week (and Week is a fairly loose term meaning something more akin to ‘period of time’ than actually 7 days!) we look at ourselves AS WE ARE – coming to recognise and accept ourselves as both sinful, flawed individuals and individuals who are personally loved by God.

The recognition that God loves me the way I am, rather than a false sense that God would love me if I were more perfect, holy, kind etc frees me. And this freedom leads me to gratitude and a desire to respond to the love I experience.

There is a little part of the Disney film Moana which reminds me of this transformation when we understand God’s loving acceptance and forgiveness. In this clip we see Moana confront Te Kā, the demon who has morphed from the goddess Te Fiti when Te Fiti’s heart was stolen. As Moana sees the truth beyond the external demon she is enabled to restore the heart of Te Fiti. CLICK the LINK to watch the clip

moana

 

MARIA AND CECILIA’S THIRTY DAY RETREAT – MOVING TOWARDS THE END OF WEEK ONE

January 23, 2018 by

Maria and Cecilia are moving towards the end of Week One having bravely given themselves in prayer to claim the challenging graces of this Week. The Week is drawing to a close as the joy of reconciliation shines on the faces of our two retreatants. We will soon relax into a rest day together. Thank you for your prayers so far – your support is tangible. We keep you in our prayers.

CECILIA AND MARIA’S THIRTY DAY RETREAT

January 18, 2018 by

Maria and Cecilia are now praying the Principle and Foundation. They are seeking to grow in spiritual freedom as they strive to praise, honour and serve God. Each evening at Adoration we pray for all of you.  We are grateful for your prayers.

Listening

January 17, 2018 by

How
do I 
listen to others?
As if everyone were my Master
speaking to me
his
cherished 
last words.

(The Gift: Poems by Hafiz.)
Translation by Daniel Ladinsky

Listening is a skill, a gift, a spiritual discipline.

Deep listening requires that I step out of myself and hear a person not for what the conversation gives me (information, insight etc) but for what the person really wants to communicate. We are challenged in listening to constantly suspend judgement, presumption and expectation as we wait for the truth of the other to be revealed.

The poem by Hafiz speaks to me of the attitude of openness that is called for… to wait with longing for what the other person is going to reveal.

Of course listening isn’t only passive (or else the person may as well just talk to a wall!) – once we have heard then we are called back into ourselves as listener to offer our way of reflecting what we have heard as a gift for the other person. They receive their truth refracted through us… opened up in a different way for them.