Mothering Sunday: 31st March 2019

For Mothering Sunday we have this lovely piece from one of our community.

As I sat beside mum on April 9th last year to ‘officially’ receive her dementia diagnosis, an unusual sense of peace surrounded me. The lovely large gentle Nigerian ‘african mama’ type  psychiatrist tried to explain to her that she had Alzheimer’s disease and there were four different tablet options, and mum could try them one at a time to see which one suited her best.  She spoke in an easy almost casual tone as though she was offering her four hats, all different colours and each with its own ‘advantages’!  Mum wasn’t in the slightest bit phased and just nodded politely and said ‘thank you very much Doctor, thank you for your time’. The two of us left and did what we always did in these situations, got back in the car and headed to the nearest tea shop. A scone and pot of tea and all would be well.  In fact, these appointments were as routine to us as they probably were to the psychiatrist. This is because mum is 86, I’m 56 and for more than the last 40 years we’ve attended as many psychiatric appointments, as we’ve had scones…..well almost! Mum has suffered severe depression for most of her life. Now Alzheimer’s has come along and I want to share the ‘friend’ it has been to us in the last year .

For the first time in our lives we are living without her depression simply because as a result of Alzheimer’s, Mum’s FORGOTTEN everything she was depressed about!  Namely a terrible childhood, 50 years of a predominantly unhappy marriage, a lifelong battle with no self esteem etc.  Whilst she can clearly remember a period of her life from about the age of 17 – 27, her Alzheimer’s symptoms mean that for some reason she chooses to recall mainly only HAPPY memories. It is incredible that she has forgotten where she lived for the last 60 years and the jobs she did too. ALL those years have just disappeared. As her primary carers, this takes some getting used to for myself and my husband who have looked after her for the last 40. But for her it is a total gift. She lives not in the past, nor in the future, but only in the present moment. Often not even in the present day, as by evening she usually can’t recall much if anything of the afternoon, she is only present to the moment by moment clock!

This means that she lives now like at no other time in her previous years. As a workaholic, she had no hobbies, no interest in her world around especially nature, which always saddened me, as I always loved every aspect of the natural world. We never had flowers in our home, as she wouldn’t have dreamt of spending money on them when she hadn’t  enough for food. Now, wherever we go, she wants to stop and admire flower, plants, trees, birds, sky, sun, moon anything she can see! Her favourite place to go to is church. She has a deep devotion to Our Lady and in church, whilst she has little engagement with the ‘theology’, she loves the statues, candles, stained glass, flowers and sings along following the readings and joining in the prayers. The vibrance of our liturgy is itself a gift for her, that I too often take for granted.

I don’t want this to sound like Alzheimer’s hasn’t come with its challenges because of course it has. The tablets didn’t ‘suit’ her, and we’ve made all sorts of ‘adaptations’ to her independent living apartment.  We have also had to change many things within our family  in order to accommodate ‘Nanna’s needs’, but overall I wouldn’t have my last 56 years of her back. As ‘Mum with Alzheimers’ at 86 she’s not in any pain, she knows she’s deeply  loved, she laughs a lot and tells me she is looking forward to our next walk and tea shop trip. There’s much to be said for ‘Contented Dementia’!

“Do Not Be Afraid For I Am With You Always”.  HE is and we aren’t! Thanks Be To God.

Have your say: Feedback on website

xaverians.org.uk is one today

Today, 23rd Mar 19, is the 1st anniversary of the launch of this website. It was originally intended as the site for the Xaverians in the UK. Since then we have seen a few changes not least of which that the Xaverians in the UK have created a new site xavs.org and the site xaverians.org.uk has become focused on serving the Preston community.

Any anniversary is a good opportunity to stop and reflect. Can you help us with this by completing this short on-line questionnaire? This is a chance to say what you like and do not like, put forward ideas and ask questions. Please click here to have your say.  We really would appreciate your input.

Walking Together With Jesus

Last Tuesday evening, at 7.30pm, we were delighted to welcome around a dozen people to the first of our Ignatian Lenten Retreat evenings entitled ‘Walking Together With Jesus’.

There was a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere as we gathered to pray with the Scriptures using the ancient practice of Lectio Divina, which has been described as a ‘four-runged ladder to heaven’.

Having shared a little of how Lent had started for each of us, and after a brief explanation of the history and practice of Lectio Divina, we were taken through the four stages of this prayerful approach to scripture, described as the four R’s; Read, Reflect, Respond and Rest, using last Sunday’s Gospel recalling Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness.

Our time together was punctuated by sharing and silence, and the chance for a cuppa at the start and end of our evening, and was appreciated by all as a great way to begin Lent supporting each other in prayer.

We gather together again this coming Tuesday (19th March) for the second of our six Lenten evenings to look at another helpful Ignatian practice related to praying with the Scriptures known as ‘Imaginative Contemplation’, and we would be delighted if you were able to join us.

Each of the sessions stands alone, so don’t worry if you can only join us for one or two evenings, and for more information of our coming sessions and the helpful on-line resources available to accompany the ‘Walking Together With Jesus’ Retreat please click here.

Social Justice and the Care of Creation: Feedback

Fr Xavier Jeyaraj SJ, President for Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES) in Rome

On the evening of Tuesday 26th Feb 2019 we had a visit from Fr Xavier Jeyaraj SJ . He spoke to an audience of about 40 on the theme of Social Justice and the Care of Creation. This is my personal reflection on some of the things he said to us.

“We are all connected and belong to one another.” We often deny this by speaking of ‘them ‘ as if those others we refer to are irrelevant, different, and inferior to ourselves.

“We are all leaders.” We often have mixed feelings about that. We want to be listened to but shrink from speaking out. We think we are right but we do not follow through and act.

“Where are we?” The state of the world is far from perfect. We are beset with issues including:

  • Extraordinary inequalities in the distribution of wealth.
  • Over exploitation of natural resources.
  • Climate change.
  • Exploitation of workers.
  • Populism, ‘fake news’, the ‘filter bubble’, avoiding anything that is challenging, uncomfortable or requires critical thought.
  • Fear of diversity.
  • The rise of the Alt-Right in the USA, European Nationalist Parties and Extremism.

“We need Leaders of Hope.” Democracy must be rooted in spirituality, social justice and love.

“What do we need to be Leaders?” We must:

  • Be authentic and act with integrity. Remember that we ourselves are flawed, that we personally are sinners in need of forgiveness.
  • Think of others. Leaders being the Servants of others.
  • Foster leadership in others.
  • Listen and be attentive.
  • Be prophets, speaking truth to power.
  • Be inspiring.

“What can we do?” We can:

  • Build an inclusive society.
  • Take in realistic positive messages, avoid fear and defeatism.
  • Reflect on how we feel and not just what we think.
  • Discern, look into difficult issues and work out what is right and wrong. Develop our own spiritual resources and use them critically.
  • Be more friendly to the environment.
  • Stand alongside the vulnerable. Help those affected by economic and environmental stress.
  • Foster the leadership skills of the young.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Fr Xavier gave some simple examples of how we can become more friendly to the environment. For most of us these are a challenge. They sound simple but they are not. Take a simple case – “Use public transport, walk or cycle.” Our reaction is likely to be “Sorry, I don’t have time, it is too far and it is raining so I am going to drive.” We need to think and be creative.

After the talk Fr Xavier took questions. One of them brought us back to what we can do. Earlier Fr Xavier had told a powerful story about a clash of interest between a rich international mining company and villagers in rural India. The question was about how we, who are lucky enough to have a surplus, choose to invest. Do we think about how our money is used? Perhaps we should start there.

Social Justice and the Care of Creation: A talk by Fr Xavier

On Tuesday 26th February we will be hosting a talk by Fr Xavier on the subject of Social Justice and the Care of Creation. This is a big subject. How can we pray “Our Father…” and not care for His creation? How can we ignore our sisters and brothers when God is our Father?

Come and listen to Fr Xavier. Feb 26 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Refreshments and chat afterwards.

The Care of Creation – A talk by Fr Xavier Jeyaraj SJ

An update on this event. Fr Xavier is going to speak at St Wilfrid’s Parish Centre in the afternoon and at the Xaverian Mission in the evening. He will present us with an interesting question “Is Leadership too important to be left to Leaders?”

For the afternoon session click here

For the evening session click here which gives details on how to book. Booking advisable as we are limited to an audience of 80.

A Journey with Mary and Joseph

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.

An interesting film for the New Year

Kevin, one of our Newsletter subscribers, has emailed us this morning.

“Just wanted to share a lovely film I’ve watched this afternoon about a young girl from Derry in Ireland who grew up amongst the troubles with two vocations – she wanted to be famous and had many gifts, she was also being called to be a Nun and give her life completely to God

It’s a very moving and inspirational film that tells her life story – a beautiful life, a life given completely to God and given in service for others. She was sadly and tragically killed in an Earthquake in Ecuador in April 2016.

She was an ordinary girl, yet with extraordinary gifts and she ended her life fulfilling her vocations – to be a famous nun!”

Click here to play the video in YouTube.

Love needs to be organised

On Monday the 10th December John Battle, former MP for Leeds West, came to speak to an audience of 60 or more on this intriguing theme. Bishop Paul gave the introduction and then John energetically set about talking us through some of his experiences, first as an MP and then later with Citizens UK before he invited us into group discussion and a signpost of what may follow.

What follows is a personal recollection of, and reflection on, the talk. Others will have a different take. It is in the spirit of the talk for me to encourage you to ask them.

  • We are called to link prayer and action. Powerful things can happen as a result of bringing people together and sometimes especially powerful things come from bringing what conventional wisdom labels the ‘wrong type of people’ together.
  • There is a need for us to transform ourselves and the society we live in. We need to improve. It can be better.
  • There is a need for leadership but also for strong local groups to form and cross link. It is not ‘them’ it is ‘us’. We need come together and express what is important to us. We need to define “What are our shared goals?” We need to learn to listen to each other.
  • Citizens UK is a movement of the people. Existing groups with a strong identity can be cross linked to other groups in dialog and build a consensus and pressure for change.
  • Politics is not all about the Westminster Parliament, it should be about how we, as mature citizens, as a society, want to shape our world.
  • Citizens UK aims to facilitate the discussion, foster the leadership, help make the connections and so bring us all together to become a powerful force for changes we collectively want.

Following on the success in other towns and cities, Citizen UK have plans and a tentative timetable for Preston. Watch out! Do we get involved or run away? It is all to play for.

John Rogerson