Author Archive

Taking a break

August 17, 2018

This time of year in the northern hemisphere is holiday time for many. The evenings are lengthened and the weather is warm.

Taking holiday – taking a break from our normal routine, from the pressures and decisions that fill our life can be such a renewing and refreshing thing. Recently I have had my own holiday time in a beautiful spot where I was able to enjoy the simple things jesus took napsof life – the beauty of nature, good conversations and relaxed days. Returning now from that time I feel refreshed and excited about what lies ahead.

A holiday, no matter how simple, puts us into a space where we have an opportunity to just be ourselves, to enjoy what is around us, to live in the present moment and to cultivate gratitude.

 

 

Faith and JOY

July 4, 2018

Last weekend I was at the Brightlights Festival in Alton Castle, UK. It is a Catholic Youth Festival held each year. Here are some highlights to give you a flavour! Maybe you would like to come along next year?!

Rejoice and be Glad: Where do you find security?

June 8, 2018

blessed-are-the-poor-in-spirit1

In reflecting on this beatitude in Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and be glad) Pope Francis asks the question “where do we find our security?”

Building security for ourselves, making our own ground stable gives us the freedom to stop focussing on ourselves and to focus outwards to others, but as with most things it has a flip side – the security itself can become our idol – so that we become so fearful of anyone or anything disturbing our security that we are no longer open to others.

Pope Francis likens the spirit of this beatitude to the Ignatian understanding of Inner Freedom – to become free and not enslaved by wealth, possessions, securities etc so as to be open to the presence of God in our everyday life and experience.

 

Preparing for the Synod – Youth Faith and Vocational Discernment

May 31, 2018

popeYesterday I attended a meeting with Bishop Ralph Heskett, one of the Bishops who will attend the Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment which takes place this October. The meeting was an opportunity for people involved in youth ministry to reflect together on ways in which the Church can more fully respond to the needs of young people.

There was opportunity to hear something of the research being done by Camino House in collaboration with CYMFED on the attitudes of young Catholics in the UK, as well as hearing from one of the participants in the International Pre-Synodal meeting of young people which took place in March.

This Synod gives us a wonderful opportunity to listen to the experience of young people in our Church, and to formulate with them new ways of being Church.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Synod, or reading the preparatory document from the pre-Synodal meeting of young people, follow the links below:

Webpage for the Synod

Preparatory Document

Welcome

May 22, 2018

I find it interesting that in today’s Gospel reading Jesus is speaking to his disciples about what it is to lead – to be a servant of all. Of all the different ways Jesus could choose to talk about service he chooses to illustrate what he is saying by speaking of welcome.

“If anyone wishes to be first,
they shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever welcomes a child such as this in my name, welcomes me;
and whoever welcomes me,
welcomes not me but the One who sent me.

Here we are reminded that to to serve is to welcome.

This makes me wonder about the challenge of being welcoming – we can all welcome those who fit easily into our way of thinking, perceiving and acting… but we also all have experience of personalities that we find challenging or even downright odd!

To serve is to welcome. And to lead is to step beyond ourselves, our own comfort and preconceptions and to be a welcome for everyone. The proof of our welcome is not in the number of like-minded friends we have, but in the diversity of those who feel included.

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Einstein

104897-Marianne-Williamson-Quote-The-greatest-force-of-personal

The truth is not an idea but a person

May 16, 2018

…for the truth is not an idea but a person, Jesus Christ, who is also charity, or love.

Jesus_Christ_Pantocrator_Closed_Book_Hand-Painted_Orthodox_Icon_2_2

Having read Austin Ivereigh’s article “Discernment in a time of tribulation” published in Thinking Faith recently, I was struck particularly by this phrase; ‘the truth is not an idea but a person’. The article presents a reflection on the Pope’s response to the abuse scandal in Chile, but I think the points made can speak into so many situations of desolation.

When we discover despair creeping into a situation, when the only way for us to answer is to produce more and more intellectual argument, leading not to clarity but to anger and division, perhaps then we are called to remember the wisdom of Ignatius and not to follow down a line which leads further into desolation. Instead we are invited to refocus on where the truth lies – not simply in a reasoned argument taken from an (morally good) intellectual standpoint but in the person of Jesus, who is also charity and love.

 

The ordinary becomes extraordinary

May 4, 2018

Love shows itself more in deeds rather than words (Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius)

I was being served in a cafe today when suddenly the woman who was serving me added an extra tray and began to prepare cups and cutlery – I realised quickly that it was for an elderly couple who were coming in, who are obviously ‘regulars’. The woman then continued to serve me and I went to sit down. Just a few minutes later an elderly man with Downs syndrome came in, and again the staff in the cafe immediately gave attention to him, joking and chatting as he placed his order. The atmosphere was lovely – clearly this is a place where community is built and friendships are formed.

It made me reflect – sometimes we feel that the big important actions that we do are what is ‘saving the world’… but maybe in reality the world is being saved moment by moment by all the tiny actions of peace, unity and community building. The world is being saved one cup of tea at a time.

A-nice-cup-of-tea-Just-my-cup-of-tea-1024x675

Small Gestures

April 25, 2018

“This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures.”

Gaudete et Exsultate

In everyone’s life there are some significant and defining moments. Times of great joy or real pain when our life is changed and we discover something new about ourselves which sets us on a new path.

Most of life, however, is lived in ordinary things, in  being with family or friends, working, shopping, cooking, eating… If we believe that God is to be found in all things and in all aspects of our day, then most frequently God is to be found in these tiny mundane activities. God is to be found in the people around us, in the little (and ususally insignificant) actions, in the small gestures.

daisy

In the recent Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis reminds us that holiness grows through these little moments, in the attitude we bring to these, in the kindnesses, forgiveness, mercy, tolerance we adopt.

Joy that orientates our life

April 16, 2018

sunrise

During these weeks of Easter we are invited to understand and experience resurrection, not as an historical moment or a exclusively divine event but as a presence and as joy. The risen Christ is utterly present with us, calls us by name (Jn 20:16), touches and is touched by us (Jn 20:27), walks along side us (Lk 24), heals, strengthens and encourages us (Jn 21). The Gospel stories of resurrection come into our daily lives and reality and we discover, within the ordinary events of our everyday lives, the presence of God.

It is this recognition of the indwelling of God, that now orientates our life.

It isn’t necessarily a bubbly happy joy, but a deep inner certainty that Christ is present and can be found in every encounter – nothing can ever be the same after this realisation – Christ is wholly present.

Michael Ivens in his book Understanding the Spiritual Exercises puts it this way:

..the grace … of the Fourth Week is joy. We are concerned with paschal joy, the joy proper to Easter, the joy which springs from a still more fundamental grace, that of the faith and love that make the risen Christ, though invisible, the very core of the believer’s existence. The prime object of paschal joy, then, is the here-and-now reality of the risen Christ.

Flowing from Christ, this joy has the typical effects of consolation. Consolation always moves a person to God’s service, towards apostolic mission, a source of strength, energy and courage to participate in the work of the Kingdom.

Pilgrimage to Lindisfarne

April 11, 2018

A group of FCJs and young adults are just back from a four day walking pilgrimage to Lindisfarne, a tidal island of the North East coast of England.

As we began our pilgrimage we were reminded of some elements of pilgrimage; prayerful preparation; silence and solitude. We prayed each day to remember that ‘although individuals, we travel with others…’ Our time together was full of joy, laughter, new friendships and lots of mud! Northumberland in spring is beautiful but it can be wet, and this year the snow has left the ground soaking and slippy! I don’t think our boots will ever be the same again!

 

Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, was a centre of Christianity from the 6th Century AD and the monks of Lindisfarne, including St Aidan and St Cuthbert brought Christianity to the north of England.

Durham Cathedral

Our pilgrimage took us along part of St Cuthbert’s Way, a national walking route, and across the ancient pilgrims causeway to Lindisfarne. At the end of the pilgrimage we travelled to Durham to visit the shrine of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral.