It is hard to believe that its six months ago that a group of us decided to start Cuppachat. We wanted to have a group that would support anyone for whom English is their second language. The name says it all – a cuppa and a chat! There are many groups in Preston offering English classes but what we wanted to do was different – to offer community, an inviting, friendly, safe place to come and practise speaking English.

So every Monday morning between 10.30am and 12.30pm we get together with coffee and pastries and chat with whoever arrives. Our guests have come from places as far away as Cameroon, Eritrea and Iran and it has been great to help them ‘feel at home’ by introducing them to our sometimes baffling (even to us!) culture, customs and sayings. We celebrated our first Christmas with carol singing (some in Eritrean!) and lots of food. Easter saw us decorating eggs, there have been games of chess, nails painted and lots of chat and laughter! We celebrated a guest’s 50th birthday complete with cake and candles – and of course our rendition of Happy Birthday!

In one of the discussions Lancaster Castle came up and so we decided to have our first trip out as a group. Getting the bus from Preston the group arrived and started with an amazing lunch at the Cornerstone Café in Lancaster (we would all definitely recommend the food there!). We then walked to Lancaster Castle for what was a really interesting and enjoyable tour of the castle.

The food was excellent and the castle tour very interesting and enjoyable but it was the laughter and friendship that really made the day.

If you know anyone who would benefit from the group or you would like to volunteer we would love to hear from you. You can use the form here to contact us.

From the Cuppachat team

Reflection on 2nd Sunday of Easter: 28th April 2019

Living the Resurrection

A week ago we celebrated the Resurrection. There comes a time, however, when we must live the resurrection. One week after Easter, is our life different? Where are we living: in the freedom and joy of resurrection or behind locked doors? What do we believe about Jesus’ Resurrection? If we want to know what we believe, we need to look at our life and how we live. Our beliefs guide our life and our life reveals our beliefs. We’re not all that different from Thomas. We each live with at least one “unless clause.” Unless I see, unless I touch, unless I feel, unless I experience, I will not believe. It reveals our struggle and desire to believe. It also reveals our misunderstanding of faith and the resurrection. The resurrection of Christ does not meet our conditions. Each condition becomes just another lock on the door. Resurrection empowers and enables us to meet our conditions. It lets us unlock the doors and step outside even when we don’t know what is on the other side.

Resurrection does not undo our past, fix our problems, or change the circumstances of our lives. It changes us, offers us a way through our problems and leads us into a future. God cannot lead us into the future until we are ready to let go of the past. That is why forgiveness is so central to the Easter mystery. We understand what it means to forgive others and even ourselves. Can we also forgive reality? To receive reality is always to “bear it,” to bear with reality for not meeting all of our needs and our conditions. To accept reality is to forgive reality for being what it is, almost day by day and sometimes even hour by hour.

Regardless of our circumstances Jesus shows up bringing life and peace, offering life and peace, embodying life and peace. Life and peace are Resurrection reality. The life and peace of Jesus’ Resurrection enable us to live through our circumstances. He gives us his peace, his breath, his life and then sends us out. We are free to unlock our doors, step outside and fully live.

Michael Marsh and Richard Rohr ( adapted)

The week ahead: 28th April – 4th May 2019

This week begins with Shirley Russo standing on the start line of the London Marathon with the aim of running 26.2 miles to raise funds for the Jesuit Missions.

After that most of the week is as normal. On Monday 29th there will be no Cuppa Chat at the Centre but on Wednesday evening we have our Labyrinth Walk at 19:00 and the Men’s Group meet on Saturday morning.

By Saturday evening Shirley will hopefully be walking normally again.

Activity feedback: The Lenten Retreat

The Ignatian Lenten retreat came to a close in Holy Week with a session summarising and reviewing the prayer course that the group had embarked upon together. During the six weeks around fifteen people had attended the different evenings to support and encourage each other, in a real spirit of ‘pilgrimage’.

The sessions comprised a short teaching on a particular aspect of Ignatian spirituality in such areas as Imaginative Contemplation , The Examen, Discernment, and ‘Finding God in All things’, together with a practical exercise to help put the knowledge into practice. There was also a time for sharing how the group was experiencing the ‘spiritual weather’ in Lent, and opportunities for stillness and quiet reflection.

The participants agreed that it was a very meaningful way to journey through a special season and the Liturgy Room was a perfect space to move from darkness to light, as the clocks went forward! In fact there was a hint of sadness during the last evening that such an enjoyable retreat had to end. One pilgrim said:
“We were treated to six weeks of Ignatian Spirituality to guide us on our Lenten journey. To achieve such depth of understanding in such a short time was truly remarkable. I felt in two pairs of very safe hands. And to see the reverence Greg and Rose had for each other was delightful”.

The following is a brief summary of the main aspects of Ignatian Spirituality covered:-

Lectio Devina – through slow prayer reading of scripture we seek the spiritual meaning of the text in our lives. We listen to God’s word with the ‘ear of the heart’, so as to hear the still small voice of God speaking to me in the text. Described as ‘4 Steps to Heaven’ (Guigo) the steps of Lectio Devina are:-

  • Read – Lectio – Identify and choose a word or phrase
  • Reflect – Meditatio – ponder chew and repeat the word or phrase and apply to our lives
  • Respond – Oratio – talk to God about it asking his help to put the word into practice
  • Rest – Contemplation – digest and let the word be absorbed into us

Imaginative Contemplation in the Ignatian Tradition – has been described as “a loving imaginative process by which we enter God’s Word and hear that Word as spoken to us today”. St Ignatius doesn’t want us to think about Jesus. He wants us to experience him. He wants Jesus to fill our senses. He wants us to meet him. Sometimes people are suspicious of the imagination, but there is no need to be. If we begin and end prayer by offering our time to God we can trust that he will speak to us, and we can discern the authenticity of our prayer life, by the effect it has on our daily life.

Imaginative Ignatian prayer uses a piece of scripture usually involving Jesus speaking and interacting with others, and invites to imagine the scene – the PLACE and the PEOPLE present, and then begin to PARTICIPATE as a character in the story.

The process teaches us things about Jesus that we would not learn through scripture study or theological reflection. It allows the person of Christ to penetrate into places that the intellect does not touch. It brings Jesus into our hearts. It engages our feelings, and at its best it enflames us with ideals of generous service.

The Examen reflects on how God has called me during the day, and how I have responded to that call, and is much more than simply trying to identify a list of what I have done right or wrong, good or bad. Rather, the Examen looks closely at the experiences of my day, and notices how I have responded to God’s call, both in terms of when I have ‘gone with the flow’ of his loving invitation, but also when I have resisted the call or put barriers in the way. The Examen focuses less on the actions of the day, and more on the impulses and movements underlying them.

The Examen’s shape is often described by five prayer steps. The first two steps – ‘Asking for God’s light’, and ‘Giving thanks for the day’, are ones of preparation, whilst the heart of the prayer is the ‘Review of the day’ at Step 3. Step 4 is potentially the most challenging, as we face those areas in which we need to grow and change, and Step 5 looks forward to where I need help from God in the day to come.

A way to remember the five steps is using the five R’s –

  • Request that the Spirit lead you through your review of the day.
  • Relish the moments that went well and all of the gifts you have today.
  • Review your day.
  • Repent of any mistakes or failures.
  • Resolve, in concrete ways, to live tomorrow well

Finding God in All Things – How does God reveal Himself to us? Or from our point of view ‘Where do we find God in our lives, and in the world?’ If we are not careful we can come to the conclusion that it is only in ‘holy’ places, people and actions that He is present, but Ignatius insight is that we can find God in every place, everyone and in everything, and especially in God’s creatures, and in his creation. Ignatius encourages us to cultivate an attentive awareness to signs of God’s presence, and developing a skill of noticing and watching for His presence in all the ordinariness of our lives. God ‘dwells’ and God ‘works’ continually in his creation

Ignatius’ famous prayer known by its Latin title –Suscipe (‘Receive’) sums up the idea that those who are able to contemplate and find God in all things are not just contemplatives but ‘contemplatives in action’. We don’t just find God for ourselves, and true spirituality wants to give back what has been received.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess. You have given all to me. To You, Lord, I return it.
All is Yours; do with it what You will. Give me only Your love and Your grace, that is enough for me.

Discernment – To “discern” means to try to figure out what God wants us to do in our lives. When we talk about Discernment in relation to Ignatian Spirituality then we are considering two main aspects.

Firstly, as way of coming to know more fully the will of God in my life, or in the life of a group to which I belong. In this sense it’s to do with making big decisions making choices about what path should I take in my life.

Ignatius was struck by a canon ball whilst he was on the ramparts during the siege of Pamplona in 1521

Secondly through a process of ‘Discernment of Spirits’ which is much more about the ordinary day-to-day choices and decisions that make up our normal, ordinary lives, and noticing the inner movements and motivations of that lead to make particular choices at particular times. Ignatius did not invent the discernment of spirits, he reflected on his own experience and provided very helpful guidelines for the discernment of spirits, While convalescing from serious battle injuries, he daydreamed about chivalrous adventures, he felt excited but afterwards felt flat, and mildly depressed. However, when he dreamt about serving God as St. Francis, St. Dominic, and the other saints he was reading about did, he also felt excited. But, afterwards, he felt consoled – happy and joyful rather than depressed as he did after his courtly daydreams. He noticed this difference and concluded God was calling him to do great things in the service of God as the saints he read about did. Ignatius assumes that God communicates directly with each of us in our hearts, minds, and souls through various interior movements – our feelings, thoughts, and desires. Ignatius learned to think about these mix of motivations, desires, attractions and revulsions—as “spirits.” He believed that these interior movements were caused not just by our own inner “spirit” – our natural inclinations, moods, insights, and emotions, but also by two outer forces, too; what he calls the ‘bad’ spirit and the ‘good’ spirit. The good spirit is at work to bring us closer to God and closer to the purpose for which we were created while the bad spirit is intent on sabotaging all of that. The feelings stirred up by good and bad spirits are called “consolation” and “desolation” in the language of Ignatian spirituality. Spiritual consolation is an experience of being so on fire with God’s love that we feel impelled to praise, love, and serve God and help others as best as we can. Spiritual desolation, in contrast, is an experience of the soul in heavy darkness or turmoil. Such feelings, in Ignatius’s words, “move one toward lack of faith and leave one without hope and without love.” Spiritual consolation does not always mean happiness, and spiritual desolation does not always mean sadness. Discernment takes practice, and is something of an art. To assist us, Ignatius provides ‘rules’ (or guidelines) for discernment at the end of his retreat manual reflecting on the life of Jesus – known as the Spiritual Exercises.

Singing Group

The group normally meets on the last Friday of each month. However, we believe the meeting on the 26th April is cancelled. Sorry for the short notice but it really could not have been helped. Next meeting 31st May.

Community News: Shirley’s run

Shirley Russo will be lining up at the start of the London Marathon on Sunday 28th April. She took on this challenge with a hope that she could raise £2000 for the Jesuit Missions. Both the running and fund raising are tough challenges.

We can’t help Shirley go the distance but we can help her raise mission funds. If you want to encourage her you can donate through Virgin Money Giving.

You can follow Shirley’s progress during the race by downloading the Marathon App onto your smart phone. The App can be downloaded from here. Shirley’s bib number is 43232.

Run Shirley Run!