Mon 18th Mar 6:30pm: Vigil for victims of NZ terror attack

This unfortunately came in too late to make the Sunday News Letter.

Preston Faith Forum invite you to attend a vigil for those killed and injured in the terrorist attacks in New Zealand on Friday.

If you can attend it would be good to show your solidarity and defiance against the rise of hatred and violence. It is important to come together and declare that we will not be intimidated or divided.

Details
Date: Monday 18th March 2019
Time: 6:30pm
Location: Preston Flag Market (outside the Harris Library)

Reflection on the 2nd Sunday in Lent: 17th March 2019

Listen

The transfiguration of Jesus must have been a glorious experience for Peter, James and John. They wanted to stay there, as we all do when we have a peak experience. But they had to descend into the valley, to live their lives, to follow Jesus. It doesn’t seem that we grow in depth if we only have peak experiences, if we stay on the mountain top. Things have trouble growing on mountaintops. Beyond the tree line almost nothing will grow because it is too cold and there is a lack of moisture. Living things grow best in the valley: they can develop roots; they are grounded. While they may lack the excitement of mountain peaks, valleys tend to be growing places. But it is in the valley that we really acquire depth, rootedness, strength and flexibility. That is where we are called to mature emotionally and spiritually. Of course, we need both; we can’t always live in the valley.

Often our reading of this story focuses on what is seen but do we sometimes emphasise the light of transfiguration to the exclusion of the voice of transfiguration? We are looking but are we listening? A voice came from the cloud and said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” ‘Listen’ is the only thing the disciples are told throughout this whole event. Listening is central to transfiguration. Yet Luke records no words or teaching from Jesus during this event. Jesus is silent. So it must be about more than words, instructions, and lessons. True listening is an interior quality, a way of being. It is more about the heart than the ears. And it is more about silence than words. Ultimately, listening is about presence.

Listening creates an opening through which the transfigured Christ enters and transforms us. Listening asks of us intention, attention, and letting go of the things that deafen us. Anything that destroys or limits presence is a form of deafness. We are being told to be present, to be open, to be receptive to the one who is always present to us, whether we are on the mountaintop or in the valley or covered by the cloud of unknowing.

Queen of Apostles website; Michael Marsh

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.

Reflection on the 1st Sunday in Lent: 10th March 2019

Temptation is more than just saying ‘No’

Today’s Gospel story follows immediately on from Jesus’ baptism. Each of the three temptations touches on Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, which had been revealed during his baptism: ‘This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’ “Notice that each of the three temptations is preceded by the same verse: ‘If you are the Son of God…’ The first way the evil one tempts any of us is to make us doubt our divine identity. Once we think we are no good, we are lost.” (R.Rohr) We can so easily find our identity in what we do, in what we have, in what other people think of us, instead of in who we are, which can so easily be overlooked or forgotten in our crazy, hectic, tightly scheduled, work-oriented lives.

The type of temptations we experience and the circumstances by which they come are unique to each one of us because they reveal what’s inside us, what fills us. That’s why just saying no is an overly simplistic understanding of this gospel and an inadequate response to temptation. Temptation is less about a choice and more about our identity and direction in life. Who am I? Where is my life headed? We answer those questions every time we face and respond to our temptations. We face ourselves and learn the ways in which our life has become disconnected from the original beauty of our creation and the transfiguring presence of God. Temptation offers us something to be discovered and the opportunity to recover ourselves. Regardless of what we see there within us, it’s just information, a diagnosis. It’s not a final judgment, a conclusion, or our grade on God’s final exam! We don’t pass or fail our temptations. We learn the truth about how we see ourselves. We learn the truth about the direction of our life and who we are becoming. This learning is neither easy nor pain free but it is the necessary learning which leads us to change our hearts (repent).

Now is the time to spend time in the ‘desert’ of silence where the inner life thrives. We need to create a time and a space to allow God to reshape and redirect our life, to return us to the truth of who we are, daughters and sons of God, beloved children, with whom He is well pleased. The angels of God will hold on to us when we can’t hold on to ourselves.                                                                         

Various sources

Reflection for the start of Lent: 6th March 2019

We begin Lent by blessing and being blessed by the ashes of the palms used in last year’s Palm Sunday celebration.  Do we see this as a ‘doom and gloom’ experience, or do we come filled with hope, knowing what God can do with dust?

Blessing the Dust

Hubble image of deep space looking back to the formation of the early galaxies.

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

Jan Richardson

Via Creativa: Add zest to life

The third series of the excellent Via Creativa sessions starts on Friday 8th March 19

Via Creativa workshops are interdisciplinary. Drawing upon arts and crafts, drama, music, dance and social justice ideas to release the innate creativity in everyone, explore interconnection and soul, and help resource people to develop resilience in the face of the complexity of life in today’s world. Each session is self-contained, participative, and requires no previous experience. Refreshments are provided and free parking is available at the venue.

  • 8th March 2019 – Kafka’s Metamorphosis with Donna Worthington.
  • 22nd March 2019 – Creativity with Clay with Russell Akerman. (For practical reasons we are limited to 10 places for this session.)
  • 29th March 2019 – Mask Making and Mask Workshop with Joanna Macy and Joseph Cooper.
  • 5th April 2019 – Energy Movement! with Sharon Martin.
  • 12th April 2019 – The Cosmic Walk – Getting Here with Rosy Townsend.

Click here for more details, poster and to reserve places.

Reflection on the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time: 3rd March 2019

Put the oxygen mask on yourself first

We are familiar with the pre-flight instructions, “…make sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before attempting to help someone else put on theirs.” The same is true spiritually; we must breathe deeply of God’s Spirit ourselves before attempting to help others. When we attempt to teach or lead others, and we haven’t opened ourselves to God’s Spirit within us, we’re putting on a front, a mask, a costume. The word hypocrite is from the Greek word meaning play-actor.

In his letter to the Galatians, St Paul describes the working of the Spirit of God as the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Joyce Rupp says that she used to think of these fruits as ‘things’ given to us, something in a gift box. Then she began to think of them as energies, dynamic sources of growth already within in us. We can choose whether or not to act upon these energies, whether or not to allow them to become effective in us.”

When we are asked to take the risk of reaching out to another, to offer forgiveness to the heart that rejects us…..

Spirit of God, fill us with the energy of your love.

When we walk with sadness …..

Spirit of God, stir the energy of your joy within us.

When anxiety and concern take over our spirit…..

Spirit of God, deepen in us the energy of your peace.

On those days when our anger flares because our agendas aren’t met…..

Spirit of God, draw us towards the energy of your patience.

When we stop giving people our acceptance and understanding…..

Spirit of God,awaken in us the energy of your kindness

As we struggle to believe in our own gifts and blessings…..

Spirit of God, strengthen in us the energy of your goodness.

As we struggle amid the many changes of growth…..

Spirit of God, move us with the energy of your faithfulness.

When harshness or abruptness dominates our moods…..

Spirit of God, bless us with the energy of your gentleness.

During those experiences of growth when we are tempted to doubt all the ways we have known you…..

Spirit of God, renew in us the energy of awareness of our true self in you.

Spirit of God, you call us to open our minds and our hearts to receive your energising, transforming radiance so that we will follow your loving movement within our lives. We trust in your powerful presence within us.

Joyce Rupp

Community news: Two good causes.

Shirley’s run

Shirley Russo is going to run the London Marathon to raise funds for the Jesuit Missions. She has taken on the challenge of raising £2000 for the missions and is training hard. If you see Shirley then give her your support. It is not easy to run a marathon.

If you want to help her reach her target you can donate through Virgin Money Giving.

Fundraising for the Dementia Singing Group

Alan Clayton invites us to the Playhouse on Friday 26th April. Alan and his friends are raising funds for the Playhouse and the Dementia Singing Group at the Centre. Come along, it will be great fun.

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.