Reflection on Corpus Christi: 6th June 2021

This is my body. This is my blood.

Last year, at the time of today’s feast day, the national lockdown restrictions were gradually being eased. During the previous months we had been unable to gather together to celebrate Mass. We reflected on the life of the Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who, because of his travels and research as a palaeontologist, often found himself without the means to celebrate the Eucharist in its traditional form. “I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar. I will make the whole earth my altar and on it I will offer God all the labours and sufferings of the world. This bread, our toil; this wine, our pain, representing the solidarity of all human kind and all beings, and the earth itself.” For Teilhard, the Consecration is already there. “I firmly believe that everything around me is the body and blood of the Word. That is why, in our prayer at the altar, we ask that the consecration (transformation) may be brought about in us.”

One year later, we are conscious that the bread of toil and the wine of deep pain continue to be offered daily on earth’s global altar. We have become more aware of the solidarity of all humankind, we are experiencing ‘what has been true since the first moment of our existence: We are the very Body of Christ.’ (R.Rohr) We often wonder how we can live this awesome reality. In his ‘Heart Prayer’, James Finley offers us the following practice which deepens our awareness of our inter-connectedness:

‘At times there is within each of us a burden almost more than we can bear. At those times, it helps to renew the awareness of our breathing. When we inhale, we inhale God loving us through and through, burden more than we can bear and all. God is the Presence that spares us from nothing even as God unexplainably sustains us in all things. Grounded in that love, I invite you to think of someone in your life whom you know and love, who is carrying within them a burden. As you inhale, inhale into yourself their burden so that in the spiritual realm of love they no longer have to carry the burden alone. You inhale their burden not to carry it, because it will crush you, but you inhale it that it might dissolve in Love, in the Love in which all our burdens dissolve. Then exhale into the depths of their burdened heart the Love that is at once your love and God’s love as one love. Expand this practice to those around you… your family… to our suffering world. The reality of God’s love inter-connects all of us. We pray that we will not break the thread of this inter-connected awareness, of belonging to each other, of being one body in Christ.

Gospel Mark 14:12-16,22-26

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was sacrificed, his disciples said to Jesus, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house which he enters, “The Master says: Where is my dining room in which I can eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room furnished with couches, all prepared. Make the preparations for us there.’ The disciples set out and went to the city and found everything as lie had told them, and prepared the Passover.

And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. Take it,’ he said ‘this is my body. Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, l shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’

After psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives.

Website: News

You all know how it is necessary to take a break from time to time?

Well, that time has come for me. I am going off, with my camping gear on a 600 mile cycling adventure.

It is not clear how long the ride will take but it is clear that it will be awkward to update the website using a mobile from the very tiny tent.

Back soon….

Reflections on Trinity Sunday: 30th May 2021

This weekend we have two reflections to share with you and also a video. So there is plenty to get you thinking as we celebrate this special feast day.

Reflection One: “Relationship”

‘The deepest and most profound truths of our lives are not provable facts. They are, rather, relational, personal, and intimate. They offer experiences and meaning, not explanations and understanding. The Feast of the Holy Trinity is not about a doctrine, ideas, or concepts. It is a feast of life, a feast of being and existence, a feast of love, a feast of sharing and giving.’1

‘When we describe God, we can only use similes, analogies, and metaphors. All theological language is an approximation, offered tentatively in holy awe. That’s the best human language can achieve. We can say, “It’s like . . .” or “It’s similar to . . .”; but we can never say with absolute certainty, “It is . . .”, because we are in the realm of beyond, of transcendence, of mystery. We absolutely must maintain a fundamental humility before the Great Mystery; otherwise religion worships itself and its formulations instead of God. The mystics would say that whenever we stand apart and objectify anything we stop knowing it. We have to love, respect and enter into relationship with what we desire to know. Yet Mystery isn’t something we cannot understand. Mystery is endlessly understandable. “The Spirit of truth will lead you to the complete truth.” ( John 16:13) There is no point at which we can say, ‘I’ve got it’. Always, and forever, Mystery gets you.

Trinity is saying, “In the beginning is the relationship.” “Let us create in our image” (Genesis 1:26-27). When we start with God as relationship, we begin the spiritual journey with an awareness that there has to be a DNA connection between the One who creates and what is created. Both science and theology use this same language of relationship. One of the many wonderful things that scientists are discovering is that the pattern of the neutrons, protons, and electrons in atoms is similar to the pattern of planets, stars, and galaxies: both are in orbit around one another, and all appears to be in relationship to everything else. The energy in the universe is not in the planets, nor in the atomic particles, but very surprisingly in the relationship between them. The energy in the Trinity is not in any precise definition or in the partly arbitrary names of the three persons of the Trinity as much as in the relationship between the Three. We must reclaim Relationship as the foundation and ground of everything. The Trinitarian revelation starts with the nature of loving—and this is the very nature of being!2

Adapted: [1] Michael Marsh [2] Richard Rohr

Video

This video is session 3 of a retreat given by Matthew Wright. The first 37 mins is on the Trinity and the remainder is on the Incarnation.

Our editor writes “After listening to the part on the Trinity, I wished I had heard it earlier in the week. My immediate reaction was to think that I would leave it and use it next year. But it’s very difficult not to share something as good as this right away so this week you have a ‘Buy one get one free’ scenario.  It’s also difficult to condense a 37 minute presentation into an A5 sheet of paper. I’ve done my best but have given you the link above in case you may be interested. I do recommend it.”

Reflection Two: “Experience Relationship”

We have framed the teaching on the Trinity as a belief rather than as an experience. We see different facets of the mystery of the Trinity in Jesus’ life. These are 3 ways in which he talks about his own experience of the divine-human relationship:

  • ‘The Father is greater than I’ (John 14:28) – an experience of ‘beyondness’;
  • ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me.’ (John 14:11) – an experience of intimacy;
  • ‘I and the Father are one.’ (John 10:30) – an experience of oneness, of being inseparable, of total union.

These three facets of the Trinitarian experience and the divine-human relationship are open to all of us. If we only allow the ‘beyondness’ relationship our religion can become fear-based, hierarchical, legalistic and paternalistic. Our sacramental traditions and our time spent in reflection and prayer provide the experience of intimacy. But we are uneasy about the experience of oneness. We say, “Only Jesus gets to say that.” ‘We refuse to realise it. We remain blind and deaf to it because we are too busy, which generally means we are too frightened to go deep within ourselves and find God there. All evil springs from my refusal to discover who and what I truly am, from my failure to realise that I and the Father are one.’

H.A.Williams

All of these facets are not only open to all of us but we need all of them. Any spirituality without all 3 of these experiences becomes imbalanced. This isn’t a ladder. This is a circle and we dance through all of these experiences throughout the course of our lives and we even pass through all three in one period of prayer. We have those moments in life when we need nothing more than to call out to the God who is greater than us; we have those moments when we need nothing more than intimacy and the experience of belovedness; we have those moments in deep silence when nothing is desired but total union….until the dance begins again. A balanced spirituality exercises each facet of this relationship. Which of these facets have we most cultivated and which are most under-cultivated?

Matthew Wright

Spirituality Centre: News

With the good news of vaccine coverage and the hope that restrictions will be lifted towards the end of June, I thought it would be a good idea to update you on the Centre here on Sharoe Green Lane. So far, most of the community have received doth doses of a Covid vaccine and we are in good physical and mental health. However, with regard to the opening of the Centre, the community have some hesitancy, at this moment.

As you know, at present The Centre is closed to groups and currently there have been a few enquiries for bookings. From a financial point of view, the past year has been a challenge, with no income from the Centre and our other usual sources, but on going costs for maintenance and upkeep have had to be covered.

If The Centre re-opens in the near future, it is the fear of the community that we will not have enough bookings to cover the cost of bringing staff back from furlough. There is also the uncertainty about guidance for groups and how this will impact on the various groups that use the Centre. The summer is also a time when our bookings are fewest.

As a community, we feel that it would be prudent to remain closed while the furlough scheme is in place until September. We are taking a cautious approach both here in Preston and in Coatbridge and hope to have further news at the end of this summer.

I realise that this is not the news you wished to read, and it is not the news that we Xaverians wished to share. Our hope is that you keep us in your prayers as we reflect on the presence here in Preston as we pray for those who have been our supporters and friends in these past years. We also hope to take this opportunity to visit friends now that restrictions have been eased.

Yours

Patrick Duffy, sx on behalf of the Community

Lectio Divina: News

Our Lectio Divina group met this Friday on Zoom to look at the readings for the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity Year B.

Mt 28:16-20 Baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

You can read the thoughts they have kindly shared with us here.

Poetry and Book Club: News

A rather depleted group met on Zoom on Wednesday 26th May to discuss the works of DH. Lawrence. You can read the pieces here.

We yearn to return to our social meetings at the Xaverian Spirituality Centre.

We will meet on the 23rd June to discuss ” Boy” by Roald Dahl.

Enjoy the sunny weekend.
Regards Mike

Poetry and Book Club: News

A reminder that we meet by Zoom next Wednesday 26th May at 1.30 to discuss the works of DH Lawrence.

You can select either a poem or an extract of a story.

If you let me have your selection for Tuesday evening I can collate them ready for our discussion.

New members are always welcome. For details on how to join the club please click here and fill in the form at the bottom of the page.

Reflection on Pentecost: 23rd May 2021

The Energies of the Spirit of God

‘Pentecost is a feast of the mysterious movement of God. Each year it is an invitation to be attentive once more to God’s presence in our lives. The Apostles, locked together in a room, suddenly experienced the movement of the Spirit as a rushing wind which brought a surge of energy which hadn’t been there before, an energy which changed their attitudes and motivated them with enthusiasm and hope. They moved from being weak and discouraged to being people with inner vitality. They discovered a dynamic power of love and a new determination to live what Jesus had proclaimed to them. We need to be attuned to the movement of the Spirit if we are to hear the call to transformation or deeper growth. We can forget or take for granted the smaller breezes if we are not deliberately attentive to them. It is easy to dismiss these moments of transformation, either because we are too busy or because we do not recognise the activity of the Divine in our everyday lives.

Galatians 5:22 describes the working of the Spirit of God as the fruits of ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ I used to think of these fruits as ‘things’ given to us, like something in gift boxes. Now I think of them not as things but as energies. They are dynamic sources of growth in us. We often pray “Come Holy Spirit” as if the Holy Spirit is separate from us. We are created in the image and likeness of God, therefore the Spirit of God is already within us. Our prayer then becomes, “Come forth from within us and help us to recognise and live your energies. May we be aware of your rushing wind and may it bring about change in us and through us.” We can choose whether or not to act upon these energies, whether or not to allow them to become effective in us. The poet Jessica Powers writes that the person who experiences the wind of the Spirit “turns like a wandering weather-vane towards love.” We always have the option to resist this turning. The choice is ours.’

Adapted: Joyce Rupp. May I have this Dance?

‘The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to reveal to us the truth of our being so that the way of our being can match it. ‘

Wm. Paul Young