A week of guided prayer.

This week, in Eastbourne,there is a week of guided prayer. From today, until Friday participants will pray for half an hour each day and meet a prayer guide, also for 30 minutes. Any form of prayer can be taught in such a week but we have chosen to focus on using Scripture in prayer. Three forms have been suggested. One is Lectio Divina or prayerful reading of a passage.This maybe common to many. There are different stages, to allow a deepening and increasing opens to the Holy Spirit.

The other forms of prayer for this week are both forms of imaginative prayer. The first is using imagination to engage with a story in scripture or psalm. The second is the Colloquy, a intimate conversation with God.

Participants were asked to begin by praying with either Psalm 23 or Isaiah 55: 1-3. If you were unable to do this week or don’t live in Eastbourne, you may want to have a go at these types of prayer over the next week or so.

Pope Francis’s Message for Lent 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each communities and every believer. Above all it is a “time of grace” (2 Cor 6:2). God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. “We love because he first has loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure… Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.

When the people of God are converted to his love, they find answers to the questions that history continually raises. One of the most urgent challenges which I would like to address in this Message is precisely the globalization of indifference.

Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience.

God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6). But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded.

God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. To further this renewal, I would like to propose for our reflection three biblical texts.

  1. “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26) – The Church

    The love of God breaks through that fatal withdrawal into ourselves which is indifference. The Church offers us this love of God by her teaching and especially by her witness. But we can only bear witness to what we ourselves have experienced. Christians are those who let God clothe them with goodness and mercy, with Christ, so as to become, like Christ, servants of God and others. This is clearly seen in the liturgy of Holy Thursday, with its rite of the washing of feet. Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet, but he came to realize that Jesus does not wish to be just an example of how we should wash one another’s feet. Only those who have first allowed Jesus to wash their own feet can then offer this service to others. Only they have “a part” with him (Jn 13:8) and thus can serve others.

    Lent is a favourable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ. In this body there is no room for the indifference which so often seems to possess our hearts. For whoever is of Christ, belongs to one body, and in him we cannot be indifferent to one another. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy” (1 Cor 12:26).

    The Church is the communio sanctorum not only because of her saints, but also because she is a communion in holy things: the love of God revealed to us in Christ and all his gifts. Among these gifts there is also the response of those who let themselves be touched by this love. In this communion of saints, in this sharing in holy things, no one possesses anything alone, but shares everything with others. And since we are united in God, we can do something for those who are far distant, those whom we could never reach on our own, because with them and for them, we ask God that all of us may be open to his plan of salvation.

  2. “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9) – Parishes and Communities

    All that we have been saying about the universal Church must now be applied to the life of our parishes and communities. Do these ecclesial structures enable us to experience being part of one body? A body which receives and shares what God wishes to give? A body which acknowledges and cares for its weakest, poorest and most insignificant members? Or do we take refuge in a universal love that would embrace the whole world, while failing to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors (Lk 16:19-31)?

    In order to receive what God gives us and to make it bear abundant fruit, we need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church in two ways.

    In the first place, by uniting ourselves in prayer with the Church in heaven. The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: “I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls” (Letter 254, July 14, 1897).

    We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.

    In the second place, every Christian community is called to go out of itself and to be engaged in the life of the greater society of which it is a part, especially with the poor and those who are far away. The Church is missionary by her very nature; she is not self-enclosed but sent out to every nation and people.

    Her mission is to bear patient witness to the One who desires to draw all creation and every man and woman to the Father. Her mission is to bring to all a love which cannot remain silent. The Church follows Jesus Christ along the paths that lead to every man and woman, to the very ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8). In each of our neighbours, then, we must see a brother or sister for whom Christ died and rose again. What we ourselves have received, we have received for them as well. Similarly, all that our brothers and sisters possess is a gift for the Church and for all humanity.

    Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!

  3. “Make your hearts firm!” (James 5:8) – Individual Christians

    As individuals too, we have are tempted by indifference. Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness?

    First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer! The 24 Hours for the Lord initiative, which I hope will be observed on 13–14 March throughout the Church, also at the diocesan level, is meant to be a sign of this need for prayer.

    Second, we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both those near and far through the Church’s many charitable organizations. Lent is a favourable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family.

    Third, the suffering of others is a call to conversion, since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters. If we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds out to us. We will also be able to resist the diabolical temptation of thinking that by our own efforts we can save the world and ourselves.

    As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31). A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.

During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: “Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum”: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.

It is my prayerful hope that this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesial community. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you.

From the Vatican, 4 October 2014

Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

FRANCIS

Reproduced from vatican.va

Jesus taught as one who had authority: Homily for 1st February 2015.

In our modern tech world, those who shout loudest and those who with great emotion speak about the cause close to their hearts often sway opinion. Anyone who might think other wise is often in danger of being dismissed and shouted down.

A passionate, emotional stance on any given subject can be mistaken as an indicator of the truth that is being uttered. If the majority also holds that opinion then the truth of the matter is seen as being obvious.

If there are no eternal truths then, indeed, truth is transient and can differ for every age and culture – it can be whatever the majority decide it is at any given moment. If however, there are truths that are eternal and unchanging then they, by nature, affect and inform any issue of the day in any given generation.

What does it mean to say that Jesus ‘taught as one who had authority’? In our first reading we encounter Moses through whom God promises to raise up a prophet like him for the people. Moses was called by God and speaks to him in the burning bush and upon the holy mountain. Moses is told that he is to speak for God to Pharaoh and the people, and lead God’s people from slavery to freedom in the Promised Land. It is Moses that receives the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments from God for his people. It is Moses who stands in the breach to mediate between God and the people, who were terrified.

The authority with which Moses spoke and taught was not rooted in his oratory, as he admits himself that he is ‘slow of speech and tongue’, but with his encounter with the eternal truth of God revealed to him. Moses’ authority rested in the truth he had to say not the manner of his delivery.

As Jesus is the priest after the order of Melchizedek so he is the prophet after the order of Moses. Jesus did not rant and rave when he taught but uttered words of eternal life that spoke to the longing or hostile hearts of those who heard. These were words of life spoken and incarnated in his very being. The power of what he had to say brought to life, healed and liberated those who were willing to receive them. As God spoke ‘let there be.’ at the beginning of creation so God in Jesus speaks again and brings to life that which was dead in an act of recreation.

Just in case you missed the point the gospel shows us Jesus’ teaching has the authority to command spiritual and well as material things. The unclean spirit knows and does not doubt who Jesus is and his authority to command. ‘Be silent, and come out of him.’ As an aside knowing who Jesus is isn’t enough – even demons know as much.

In an ever-changing world where completing voices grow ever more persistent and loud, we need not be fearful of encountering the world to which Christ sends us. Rather we need, with discernment and an informed conscious, to spot any resonance with the gospel and with humility point the way to Jesus.

Our confidence rest in that, in a culture of multiple truth claims, there is only one who has the words of eternal life, who is the way, the truth and the life. There is only one who can reconcile, forgive and breathes new life into us. We ourselves draw nearer to the eternal truths of God through the sacraments, through scripture and through the teachings of the Church, which is Christ body here on earth.

Prayer Vigil: What we prayed about

As reported on Facebook, in our twelve hours of prayer last Saturday we asked ourselves — as a community and individuals — five of God’s questions that are found in Scripture.

  1. Where are you?

    Where are we now and where are we going?

  2. What is that in your hand?

    What resources, talents and gifts do we have?
    What gifts are we using well and what gifts are we neglecting?

  3. What are you doing here?

    What are we doing and why?

  4. What do you see?

    What vision for the future do we have and where do we want to be in five years?

  5. Who will go for us?

    What part am I or should I be playing in the community?
    How do I understand the mission of this community and how does it connect to the Ordinariate as a whole?
    Who might be the key players?

Some reflections and answers were gathered on the day and will be considered by the Pastoral Committee and the community in due course, to determine how we can best do what God is calling us to do. Members of the community can contribute further via email or Facebook messages.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”
Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
And [Elijah] arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. And there he came to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
And the angel who talked with me came again, and waked me, like a man that is wakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, “What do you see?”
Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

Prayer Vigil: Night Prayer (Compline)

Members and friends of the Ordinariate in Eastbourne are gathering to pray for the world, the Ordinariate and the group for 12 hours today [Saturday]. The Hours of the Divine Office are said during that time.

Throughout the day we are using a version of the Office which is based on that published by Universalis. If you would like to join in, a suitable text is available online: the next Hour will be said at 9pm.

Night Prayer by Universalis

Prayer Vigil: Evening Prayer (Vespers)

Members and friends of the Ordinariate in Eastbourne are gathering to pray for the world, the Ordinariate and the group for 12 hours today [Saturday]. The Hours of the Divine Office are said during that time.

Throughout the day we are using a version of the Office which is based on that published by Universalis. If you would like to join in, a suitable text is available online: the next Hour will be said at 6pm.

Evening Prayer by Universalis