Book Club: News

Our Poetry and Book club is meeting on Zoom on Wednesday 23rd September to discuss Genesis Ch 1-3.

If you wish to join the Zoom Meeting then please get in contact with Mike O’Callaghan using the form at the bottom of this page.

Mike writes “I have just been for a lovely walk on this glorious morning; ‘God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good.’  Sadly there continues to be a number of serpents about.”

Lectio Divina: News

One of our Lectio Divina group remarks that sometimes they all have the same message from the reading but more often than not each gets an incomplete message that is made more complete after reading what others have received. “The beauty of the Holy Spirit at work.”

Lectio Divina for this Friday considered the Gospel for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

You can read their reflections here.

Lectio Divina: News

Some of the Lectio group are away on hols at the moment so it was a smaller group meeting on line to discuss the reading for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) Mt 18: 21-35 “I do not tell you to forgive seven times, but seventy-seven times”

You can find out what they thought here.

‘Exploring Faith Accompaniment’ course

In past years the Diocese of Blackburn have offered their ‘Exploring Faith Accompaniment’ course at the Centre. In the light of Covid-19 the course is being completely revised. The new course amply compensates for the regrettable loss of the residential weekend.

Since the Centre is closed it will now be held in the conference centre facilities at Blackburn cathedral where there is plenty of space for any social distancing required.

You can find out more here.

Lectio Divina: News

Our Lectio group has been looking at Matthew 18: 15-20.

It has been deeply emotional today, indeed, some of the reflections can’t be posted as they were too personal. This shows us how wonderful Lectio Divina is, the power of praying together and of praying for one another. You can read some of the group’s reflections here.

The Folly of the Cross

There is the story of the man who wakes up from an operation in hospital to be greeted by the doctor, who says to him, “I have some good news and bad news for you.”
The man says, “Give me the bad news first.”
The doctor replies, “We had to remove both your feet!”
Distraught the man begins to weep and after a few minutes asks, “And what was the good news?”

To which the doctor replies, “The man in the next bed wants to buy your slippers.”
(Sorry! I can hear you cringing from here….but bear with me!)

We’ve all told or heard those jokes or played the game “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

Do you want the good news or the bad news? It is exactly what our faith is!
The Good News is that Jesus has liberated us from sin and shown us the way to life eternal.
The bad news is he had to suffer and die to do that!

This is the paradox of Christianty. The reason we call the day of Christ’s suffering and brutal death – “Good Friday”

It’s what is known as the “Folly of the Cross”
This comes from St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians…
“The language of the cross is folly for those not on the way to salvation, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

The readings today ask us to reflect on the “Folly of the Cross” with the examples of Jeremiah and Peter, and wisdom from Paul, himself.

1st Reading

Jeremiah shares his experience of the cross.
Seduced by the Lord and, putting his whole life at the service of God, the prophet has become a laughing stock, the butt of everyone’s jokes.
But the fire in his heart is too strong, even amid his own personal crisis and suffering, he has to carry the cross of being the prophetic voice.

2nd Reading

The theme continues as Paul urges the faithful to “offer your living bodies as a holy sacrifice pleasing to God.” This is the worship pleasing to God, in taking up the cross and dying to self.

Gospel.

Here Jesus announces his passion to the disciples and tells them that their path is the same.

Peter, who was the hero in last week’s Gospel professing Jesus as the messiah and Son of God, doesn’t get it.

“Get behind me Satan, this is not the way of God and if anyone wants to follow me they must renounce themselves and take up the cross and follow me.”

These are the two ways of true Christianity – renouncing self and taking up the cross.
But what does that mean?

Renouncing is dying to self, to self interest, selfishness and self dependency.

Taking the cross is not just about accepting life’s difficulties but it’s an expression of complete and total love for the other, which in its most radical form, is the complete gift of self… even to death.

Jesus then explains the folly of the cross in a more logical way.

  • Whoever gives their life, will gain life eternal.
  • This life is merely transitory.
  • The eternal reward should be all the concerns us.

In today’s world where “it’s dog eat dog, be all that you can be, look after number 1…” Jesus’ logic is alien to the world but we are called to renounce that attitude, that mind set, that ideology and practice.

The COVID 19 pandemic has shown the world up for the selfishness that reigns, for the greed that abounds, for the inequalites, with which each, day get worse.

At a time when we are called to be in solidarity with those worse off… we batter down the hatches. We circle the wagons. During this pandemic…

  • The Government abolishes the Department of International Development and reduces its aid to the developing world.
  • 36,000 people’s universal credit has been reduced.
  • Landlords, hoteliers, councils can now put the homeless back on the streets.
  • Companies prefer to make redundancies rather than reduce profits.
  • WHO admits that the pandemic reveals systematic injustice and calls us to act.
  • The USA withdraws funds from the WHO during the biggest crisis in our lifetime

And we could go on!

“Renounce ourselves and take up our cross” demands that we act differently, that as Christians we say to the world “You’ve got it wrong! There is another way” And it’s the way of love, of solidarity, of compassion.

And the alternative model of Jesus is in renouncing our own selfish ways our comfortable ways and look at the other with love, not disdain or fear.
This is the folly of the Cross!

  • So what am I called to renounce in my life ? The sacrifices I need to make?
  • What are those things that make me selfish instead of selfless?
  • What are the crosses that I need to embrace to make me love more?
  • Who am I called to love more? And how can I do that?
  • What am I asked to do to follow Jesus more faithfully?

The Pandemic can be the cross which brings us hope and a better, more just life.
We can stand beating our breasts feeling sorry for ourselves at the foot of the cross or we can run with hope, faith and love to joy of the empty tomb!

The choice is ours!

Let’s pray that we choose to run from the scandal of the cross to the glory of the tomb… and you don’t need slippers for that!

Spirituality Centre: News

Just a wee update on where we are regarding the opening of The Spirituality Centre. With the current restrictions still in place is seems that our idea of opening in September has been pushed back. We are now looking at opening once the Furlough Scheme ends in October. There are a few reasons for this:

Looking at the guidance of the Preston City Council website and the UK Government web site it seems that we cannot open under the restrictions in place. We have no idea how long this is going to last and what the implications are.

Places that host conferences or exhibitions are to remain closed and because of current restriction meet with people you do not live with, or have “bubbled” with in other indoor public venues – this includes pubs, restaurants, cafes, shops, places of worship, leisure and entertainment venues or visitor attractions. You may still attend these places with people you live with or are in a protective support bubble with. You must take precautions to socially distance from one another wherever practical.

Other activities are discouraged, and face masks are now mandatory for almost all indoor spaces. Changes to cleaning regimes, entering and leaving, reception, numbers that can be permitted with social distancing have huge implications on our working and finances.

This is disappointing for the community here and for the wider community who use and appreciate the Centre. We continue with our small community mass on a Thursday evening and remember friends and family in our prayers. We also remember the wider Xaverian community and our missions that are suffering at this time. Suffering, not just because of Covid, but also because our ability to help support their work and their mission is severely limited by what is happening here.

I hope that I have better news the next time I write! Thanks for your support, patience and prayers.

Paddy

For more information please follow the links

Preston’s local restrictions

https://www.preston.gov.uk/article/2915/FAQ-on-local-restrictions-what-you-can-and-can-t-do-in-Preston

Business closures

https://www.preston.gov.uk/Businessclosures

UK Government Guidance

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities/covid-19-guidance-for-the-safe-use-of-multi-purpose-community-facilities