News from Fr. Paddy

It has been almost 11 weeks since our lives changed: lockdown came into place, queuing at the supermarket became common place, hugs were banned, and the Churches closed their doors. In that time we have tried to cope in different ways: watching mass being live streamed, finding new ways to pass time and, at least for me, exploring those spaces that are often forgotten (cupboards, sheds and the garden).

Here, on Sharoe Green Lane I have been engaged in a battle: a battle with ivy. It has grown up walls and reached the roof! There was a need for action. As you can see from the photos, some actions have taken place! The composting bins are constantly full, the walls are clear and some of the damage has been repaired! I have enjoyed my gardening time and getting the grass cut, hedges trimmed and tidying the car park has passed many an hour.

But that is not all I have been doing. Bideri and I are celebrating mass on a Thursday evening, remembering all those who normally join us. Praying for your intentions and health. On a Sunday we shared the Easter Joy that challenged the apostles to go and proclaim the Good News. And in this post Easter time we are reminded that the Trinity about love and communication.

Keeping in touch even in challenging times.

We hope and pray that your lockdown has been an opportunity to reflect and pray. Reflect and pray for our families, our friends and those who feel alone or lost. And if you are feeling alone or lost give us a call for a catch-up, a text for company or a pray for support!

Fr Paddy

Lectio Divina: News

Our faithful and growing, Lectio Group met on-line on Friday and considered the Gospel for Pentecost. You can read their thought here.

If you would like to learn more or take part then why not send an email to the organisers by using the form at the bottom of this page.

If you want to make God laugh… Tell God what your plans are for tomorrow!

There is the story of the avid golfer who goes to the fortune teller desperate and curious to know if there are golf courses in Heaven. So, Rosie Lee gazes into her crystal ball and announces: “I have good news and bad news!”
“What’s the good news?” asks the enthusiastic golfer.
“There are loads of beautiful courses in Heaven…lush greens, gorgeous fairways, luxurious settings and 5-star club houses” she answers.
“Wow that’s brilliant” replies the golfer and then asks, “What’s the bad news.”
“You tee off on Wednesday morning!” comes the reply.

No one can predict the future! Last year we Xaverians in Preston were planning big things. We had organised the calendar for the year ahead and one of our initiatives, in line with the Church in England and Wales, was a series of talks on “the God who Speaks”. We were hoping to develop sessions each month where we could identify where and how God speaks to us today, and what is it that God is saying. “The God who Speaks” was the theme for the year 2020 and, rather than it being torpedoed, I believe, it probably has become a more poignant and relevant theme than anyone could have imagined. No one could foresee in December where we find ourselves today individually, communally and globally. Where is the “God who speaks” in all of this?

A familiar phrase from scripture, found in Matthew 16:3, Luke 12:56 and one which was used by Pope John XXIII when he convoked the Second Vatican Council, in the statement Humanae Salutis (1961) and also in Pacem in Terris (1963) is the command to read the “signs of the times”. It came as a rallying call for the Church to be more attentive to the world if it wants to remain faithful to its mission and to be relevant to all God’s people.

In both Scripture passages Jesus remonstrates with the crowds and with the Pharisees for failing to “interpret the signs of the times” and in “failing to understand the present times.” The same message “read the signs of the times” is found in four Vatican II Documents and was the revolutionary motto at that Council. Pope John XXIII called the Council in order to place the Church into the modern era and to make Christ’s mission more meaningful in “these present times.”

So, what are some of the signs we must read in these present times? Well, I have come across certain references to the pandemic as God’s retribution! This is not reading the signs of the times and certainly not reading the God manifest in the person of Jesus. It is myopic madness and let us put that partially sighted viewpoint, that blind spot… where it belongs.

With Pentecost we end the Easter season, and leader who has tried to read the signs, Pope Francis, likens the pandemic to the stone that sealed the tomb of Jesus that “threatens to bury all hope.” However, like the women at the tomb, we cannot allow fear, anxiety, sadness and loss to rob us of hope. And, like them, we too are asking: “Who will roll away the stone?” It is God’s love that will! But the Pope insists that “an emergency like Covid-19 is overcome also by “the antibodies of solidarity.” It’s God’s love and our love working together! Pope Francis expresses the hope that, in the light of the resurrection, “we would encounter the necessary antibodies of justice, charity and solidarity” to change the world. He calls for the building of “a civilization of love,” which he described as “a civilization of hope,” contrary to one marked by “anguish and fear, sadness and discouragement, passivity and tiredness.” The pope continues that this civilization “has to be built daily” and requires “the commitment of everyone.”

So Covid 19 calls us to see the need for solidarity…the only way forward. All of us, I am sure have witnessed great signs in the coming together of so many to do so much for others. It does indeed gladden the heart! But this global emergency has also shown us more and evermore clearly the blatant signs that we are living in an ill-divided world, an unequal society, an unjust reality. Daily we read of the infections and deaths and it stares us in the face. In the UK we see greater death rates among the poor, higher risk among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities (BAME), key workers, dubbed heroes, on basic wages and forced to use food banks, a sudden realisation that “we need immigrants”, clear evidence of “one rule for the privileged and one for the plebs”…and so it goes on! If we look globally, especially the “developing world” this disparity stares us in the face. If the virus has done anything it has opened our eyes to this reality that we have to create a different normal, to denounce unashamed injustices of our time and to build that civilization of love and hope that is inherent to our faith and intrinsic for our future.

So, let’s not concern ourselves with opening of Churches but rather the opening of the Church to these present signs. Let our worship cease to be comfortable but confrontational, let our liturgies be more than faith motivation but faith in action, let our participation of the sacraments, where we open ourselves to God’s grace, lead us to be God’s grace, and let our Church services become real service in the proclamation of God’s Kingdom and the rebuilding of a better world.

And that better world calls us to see the signs of the times and read the messages coming from our world. Pope Francis has also said that nature is responding to how we have maltreated her and says that nature never forgives; “if you give her a slap, she will slap you back!” I am sure we have all seen pictures of the difference the global lockdown has made to our planet! Unblemished skies, clearer rivers and seas, smog less cities, a re-sighting of wildlife, an increase in endangered species… all evidence that we have been slapped. However, the crowded beaches strewn with litter, the fly tipping, the unnecessary travel… have also been familiar sights and evidence that we need to open our eyes wider and let the slap sting us into action.

5 years ago, this week the Pope penned his beautiful encyclical “Laudato si” and in it he illustrated our connectedness with the earth and our duty to care for our common home. He has also said that “a Christian who doesn’t safeguard creation, who doesn’t make it flourish, is a Christian who isn’t concerned with God’s work, that work born of God’s love for us.” Perhaps during the sacrament of reconciliation, amid our many sins, it is time to reflect on this individual and communal transgression. I know I need to!

Covid 19 is calling us to recognise the signs of the times and challenges us to be in solidarity. Solidarity with our brothers and sisters, especially the “least of these” and solidarity with our Mother Earth. As we get through this “vale of tears” may it soften our hearts and open our eyes to see where, when and with whom, we need to be in solidarity. May it give us real 2020 vision.

The opening little joke reminds us that we cannot predict the future, but we can reshape it and surely that’s good news!

Jim Clarke, s.x.

Poetry and Book Club

The next meeting of the Poetry and Book club is on Wednesday 27th May at 1.30 The group will be using Zoom.

The topic is “Women Poets” Some of the members have shared their selected poems so the group can read and think about them prior to the meeting. You can read some of the selected poems here.

If you are interested and want to get involved then please get in touch with Mike using the form which you can find here.

Poetry and Book Club: News

The next meeting of the Poetry and Book club is on Wednesday 27th May at 1.30 The group will try to use Zoom.

The topic is “Women Poets” If you are interested and want to get involved then please get in touch with Mike using the form which you can find here.

Zoom is easy once you have done it so if you are a little concerned about that then may I suggest you have a practice first.

Lectio Divina: News

Our growing Lectio Divina group took the Gospel reading for the 6th Sunday in Easter Year A: John 14: 15-21 “I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate.”

Some of the participants have kindly offered their reflections. You can read them here.

New members always welcome. Contact the group using the form at the bottom of this page.

Blessing in the Chaos

To all that is chaotic in you,
let there come silence.

Let there be a calming
of the clamouring,
a stilling of the voices that
have laid their claim on you,
that have made their home in you,

that go with you
even to the holy places
but will not let you rest,
will not let you hear your life
with wholeness
or feel the grace that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you cease.
Let what divides you cease.
Let there come an end
to what diminishes and demeans,
and let depart all that keeps you
in its cage.

Let there be an opening
into the quiet that lies beneath the chaos,
where you find the peace
you did not think possible
and see what shimmers within the storm.

Jan Richardson

Lectio Divina: News

Our very active on-line Lectio Group met on Friday 8th May to consider the reading for the 5th Sunday in Easter Year A. Jn 14:1-12 “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”.

These are some of their thoughts.

If you would like to learn more about Lectio or join in then please contact us using the form here.

Lectio Divina: News

Our growing on-line Lectio Group met today to consider the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday. Some of them have been kind enough to share their thoughts with us. You can read them here.

If you would like to learn more about Lectio or join in then please contact us using the form here.