Lectio Divina: News

Fifteen of the community took part in Lectio Divina on Friday. Trying to adhere to the established routine of time and form and although each person was at home, still united in Christ.

The group has exchanged reflections afterwards. Here are three to share. For privacy we have omitted names.

One

This is such a wonderful story filled with hope and knowledge of God’s great love for us.

There is a bit of Mary and Martha in me, maybe in all of us. I can always feel Mary’s pain and need for reassurance and help from Jesus. Martha was a more practical person and needed to do things in a more structured way. Both sisters had amazing faith and knew without doubt that God would grant Jesus anything.

Jesus waited two days before he went to Lazarus to show them God’s Glory by doing something only God could do. The fact that He wept at the death of his friend shows His total humanity. Both His Divinity and humanity in the same story.

I pray that I will one day have the total trust in Jesus that Mary and Martha have.

I pray for all the people affected by the coronavirus. All the NHS employees, All the clergy and religious and for you and your family. Please pray for my family, my friends and for me.

God bless.

Two

Years ago, my wife and I used to take cat biscuits to Venice. “per i poveri gatti” if anyone asked – they never did.

One day, in the direct sun in the searing midday heat, there was a cat lying on a stone window sill, apparently dead to the world.

I silently placed a single tiny biscuit near his nose. Instantly, no transition, he was instantly fully alert and gobbled it up, hungry for more.

We didn’t know his name but we called him Lazarus.

Jesus wasn’t there when Lazarus was taken ill, or when he died, and didn’t go immediately in response to the sisters’ call for help. Odd?

We are familiar enough with the two of them, Martha the practical one, Mary the contemplative [Xaverians and Carmelites?]. We need both practices.

The reference to Mary’s anointing show that John’s narrative is not presented chronologically because that story doesn’t come until the next chapter, 12:3

Jesus tells his disciples that he was pleased not to have been there – inexplicably at this stage, and hangs around where he was, for another two days.

Martha, still the activist, is the one who first comes out to meet him, and they discuss death and resurrection [as you do!]

Then Mary comes out and says word for word what Martha had said “If you had been here my brother would not have died” [not “our brother” ????]

And Jesus is disturbed in spirit and greatly moved; it’s arguable whether this is characteristic of humanity or divinity – i suggest both.

There is a significance to the 4-day period, which probably contributed to Jesus’ delay is turning up – the Jews believed that the spirit finally departed 4 days after death, so this sign was even more impressive.{John writes about signs, not miracles, which is the Synoptics’ favoured word]

I’ve always wondered exactly how Lazarus managed to stand up and came out, since his hands and feet were bound, but it’s perhaps significant that Jesus told the onlookers to unbind him and let him go.

This put me in mind of Peter’s escape from prison, when the angel told him to put on his sandals and fasten his belt; we are called on to do what we can, while God does what we can’t. Trust in the Lord and keep your powder dry!

As usual, the chief priests and co. don’t like what Jesus is doing because it undermines their authority and threatens their good standing with the Romans.

Caiaphas, with wonderful double entendre, probably not intended, says, it is better for one man to die than for the whole nation to be destroyed.

John expands this to comment that this means not just the Jews but all the dispersed children of God.

And that’s why this story is relevant to us, because that is who we are.

I look forward to reading other takes on this passage.

Warm regards to all.

Three

It seems always amazing to me how many things come out anew in a very well know Gospel when doing Lectio Divina.

For me today they were mainly three aspects that took my attention:

  • The attitude of the two sisters. Martha at once goes to receive the Lord, without hesitation, and without being called. She believes in Him and does a profession of faith. While Mary is sitting at home, I guess in sorrow for her loss. But as soon as she is called by the Lord she is in her way to meet Him.
  • Jesus attitude in front of the sufferings of those He love. He wept. Is it not what He does every time we are suffering? God didn’t promise us a way of roses, though He promise to be with us till the end of times; helping us to go through whatever tribulation lies ahead of us.
  • Jesus prayer to the Father. How beautiful and simple prayer, ‘I thank You for hearing my prayer…. You always hear me.’

I made this prayer mine and thanked the Lord for always hearing me, for always being by my side, for His unconditional love.

And so I pray for all of us, for those in need, especially those suffering with the Coronavirus, for the eternal rest of those who past away and for those who, in these times of need, do the will of the Father and attend the needy with love and compassion.

Lord in your mercy Hear my prayer.

Book Club has gone Virtual

The Book Club has gone virtual. They are using a private WhatsApp group administered by Mike O’Callaghan. If you want to join in then contact us and we will put you in touch with Mike.

The group discussed poetry at their last meeting on the 18th. The theme was “Lost and Found”. One of the group has shared a couple of poems under that theme.

Hyacinths to feed thy soul.

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
And of thy simple store two loaves of bread alone are left
Sell one, and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed the soul.

John Greenleaf Whittier

The contributor wrote “I included this short poem because I knew that I wanted to include these words in a ‘Lost and Found’ context. On my first reading of them, some years ago, I felt comforted in my ‘loss at that time’ and it then took me a while to find the words again.”

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

R.S. Thomas

“I like this poem because it reflects on how we have the capacity to find real joy and lose it again so quickly – but it is hopeful and reminds us that ‘all is not lost’ – if we keep a searching attitude.”

Lockdown

Here is a poem written by Brother Richard Kendrick.

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.

But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.

So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.

Brother Richard Kendrick

Mindfulness has gone Virtual

Our Mindfulness practice sessions are continuing in a different way. The group has agreed to continue to practise from home at the same time as the scheduled sessions. This is both an act of solidarity and a way of helping us to hold onto the familiar patterns of our lives.

We invite all to join us for virtual sessions on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month, 10:30 to 12:00.

The Catholic Voice

The April edition has been printed and sent out to the churches but the suspension of services will mean many will not have a chance to see it. We have been given a .PDF copy that you can read here.

Note: some of the features advertise events that have been overtaken by the Coronavirus pandemic and the mitigating actions. Check with the organisers as the situation is moving fast.

Calendar Update: Book Club and other groups.

The Xaverians have closed the Coatbridge Centre for the moment and are discussing the situation in Preston today. More news on that later.

In the meantime our Book Club group are suspending their meetings for the present. Mike writes…

“I regret to say that the meeting this Wednesday ( 18th March) is cancelled. All future meetings are cancelled until further notice.

However do continue to read ‘Occupational Hazard’ by Rory Stewart. I will be in touch in the next couple of days suggesting how we can discuss this on-line.”

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
As the Jews consider the Sabbath –
The most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
On trying to make the world
Different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
To whom you commit your life.
Centre down.

And when your body has become still
Reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
In ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(you could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives are in one another’s hands.
(Surely that has become clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
Of compassion that move, invisibly,
Where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love –
For better or worse,
In sickness and in health,
So long as we all shall live.

Lynne Ungar 11th March 2020

Calendar Update: Saturday Retreats

As a consequence of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Donna Worthington has cancelled her Saturday Retreats until further notice. They may temporarily show up on the website calendar as there is a bit of work in taking them off but that will be done soon.

Lectio Divina: A Personal Experience

This week we have another excellent account from a different member of our Lectio group. Again, I post on her behalf.

My experience of Lectio Divina.

I first attended Lectio Divina about 15 years ago now. I loved it immediately and have continued to attend ever since, health permitting. At the moment, due to the coronavirus and being at high risk of infection, I am unable to take part so being able to write this is really beneficial to me and hopefully to you.

Many people benefit from Lectio Divina by invoking the Holy Spirit to enable us to hear what Jesus is saying to us through the Gospel readings we use. I have found that no matter how I am feeling physically or mentally when I arrive, I leave feeling wonderful.

Life is never easy, as we all know and we all have worries, concerns, issues, loved ones who are sick etc. Lectio Divina helps us to cope with all these issues. If you attend you can say whatever you like in the knowledge that it is in strict confidence. No-one will judge you and nothing you say is wrong. You may not want to say anything and that is fine. You will definitely benefit from listening to what others have to say. I would recommend Lectio Divina to anyone.

God bless you all. Stay safe.