Not all the events held at our Centre are public. Here is an account of one of those private group events.
On Saturday, December 1st. Women Together in the Diocese of Lancaster organised an Advent day of Prayer in the Xaverian Mission Spirituality Centre (formerly Tabor) Preston. It was led by Father Nyagasaza Bideri who runs the Centre. From the start, although it was a grey, wet and dreary looking day, we received a very warm, hospitable welcome from him. We felt immediately that he had been looking forward to our coming there and had been preparing for the day with care and enthusiasm. He told us that it was to be a day of joy!
The greatest reality in our lives is our relationship with God. So, first, to help us allow God to heal our hearts from all that hinders His love embracing us, Father Bideri led us in an unusual reflection on the elder brother of the prodigal son and his troubled relationship with the father. In an interactive session, together we identified all the troubling elements that the elder son refused to let go of in himself. In naming these we could let go of all the same elements we recognised in ourselves. So we were ready then to open up to the love of God at work in the lives of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus, tracing their spiritual journey through scripture and art.
We celebrated Mass together at midday and after lunch shared a very joyful session with carols and seasonal hymns illustrated on the computer as we enjoyed singing along. A half hour of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament then followed and we drew the day to a close with song and prayer and blessing, grateful to Father Bideri for this lovely introduction to the Advent Season.
Women Together has a long history in the Diocese of Lancaster since it was first established by Bishop Brewer to give women a voice and opportunities to deepen and develop their faith and encourage the service that flows from that. So on the same day the organising committee took the opportunity for a “grass roots” consultation with all who came. In the spirit of Pope Francis we know that we need to listen and learn from women themselves what kind of topics and days they want to share. We asked permission to use their contact details for future publicity as we will see what suggestions were made and what can then be planned ahead.
Philomena Grimley SHCJ
This article first appeared in the Diocesan VOICE and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author.