Just a word – these reflections as they arrive in the inbox are often accompanied with kind words of thanks and encouragement intended for the other members of the Lectio Group. I generally do not publish these as they are obviously intended particularly for group members.
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Fr Paddy has been experimenting to see what the effect of 2m Social Distancing would be for The Centre. He has rearranged the seating to comply with the requirement and then taken photographs. You can see the photographs here.
You must make up your own mind but when I look at Paddy’s visual explanation it seems clear that a 2 metre separation is unworkable for our usual events. Much of the life of the Centre is about community and being together.
Perhaps the government will soon issue new and less restrictive guidelines on distancing but until then we shall wait.
“Do not be afraid” FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real
One of the gifts of Lockdown is that is has given us time be in touch with our emotions and in the process hopefully we have dispelled the myth of the “stiff upper lip” as being a sign of strength. “We’ve become so used to suppressing and judging our emotional responses if things are difficult, or we try to make them last if they are happy, nice ones. By allowing what’s happening inside of us, we won’t reject our difficult emotions or try to force ourselves to feel something different. Whatever we resist, persists. This is actually one of the leading causes of our suffering. A deepening spiritual journey is an invitation to be grounded in our immediate experiences, allowing them to be what they are. We then learn to welcome all our emotions as valid, and as potential teachers. Our inner state of turmoil can gently settle down when we acknowledge and make room for whatever is happening.
Paula D’Arcy tells us that God comes to us disguised as our life. It has taken me a long time to start appreciating that this life, as it is, is our greatest teacher if I let go of my attempts to glamourise or improve it, and rather be open to it with an attitude of surrender and receptivity. ‘The word surrender itself means to hand oneself over or entrust oneself. It is not about outer capitulation but about inner opening. It is always voluntary, and rather than an act of weakness, it is always an act of strength.’ (Cynthia Bourgeault) It is an opening to the ‘I Am’ presence of God, to the peace that passes understanding that is holding all that is real. True peace is not smooth circumstances or permanently peaceful, calm emotions or better insurance against disasters out there, but an ability to find a stability of presence and a deeper grounding in the quiet calm, restful embrace of God. Eckhart Tolle wrote: ‘Forgive yourself for not being at peace. The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace. Anything you accept fully will get you there, will take you into peace. This is the miracle of surrender.’ ”
Of what are you afraid? Has your vision come to be so narrow? That you believe in only what you see and nothing more. I know you know my heart. I embrace the lily and the sparrow Whoever taught you different does not know how much I love you.
You Cannot Go Below My Resting Arms, David Kauffman: CD ‘Be Still’
Gospel: Matthew 10:26-33
Jesus said to his disciples, “Have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”
Last week, at the time we would normally gather for the Community Mass, we posted a link to the Xaverian community website in the Philippines.
This week at the same time we encourage you to look at the website of the Xaverians in Sierra Leone. Have a look at what they are doing, their challenges, hopes and above all their generosity of spirit.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) was a Jesuit palaeontologist and mystic whose work brings science and religion together. For him, all beings and all creation “complete the Body of Christ.” In his travels and research as palaeontologist he often found himself without the means to celebrate the Eucharist in its traditional form. His fundamental vision of Christ as ‘All-in-everything’ inspired his ritual which he called the Mass on the World. “I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar. I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself.” His Liturgy of the Word is his contemplation and praise of God’s presence in all people and in all creation. He celebrates the Liturgy of the Eucharist (Offertory, Consecration and Communion) by “making 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 desired 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 for (and in) us. From Offertory and Consecration there follows Communion. Consciousness (awareness) must and does yield to the truth of things, sees more clearly the ‘single life’ that enlivens all things.” Teilhard’s daily celebration of Mass was an openness and surrender to a growing awareness of Christ already present in all things.
During the past few months we have found ourselves without the means to celebrate our traditional weekly Mass. We have had to find some other ways of keeping alive that which nourishes and transforms us – and perhaps ask ourselves, “What does nourish us and open us to being transformed?” Have we said with Teilhard, “I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar. I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself.” What is ‘the real’ for us? For Richard Rohr it is “finding Christ in the body (in the material world), in the blood (in the suffering of the world). Little by little this transforms us into Christ. That’s what church is all about! That’s its only mission. That’s our only task. And because it’s too good to be true, too big to be possible, we take it in little doses. We hope that we will be humble enough, open enough, ready enough, empty enough to believe it.”
Since March 23rd, 2020 the Xaverian Mission Spirituality Centre has been closed due to the on-going Covid-19 epidemic. This has been a great loss for we Xaverians, in terms of our mission and our pastoral engagements. It has meant that all our regular events have been cancelled: Thursday Evening Mass, The Passover, The God who speaks, Cuppa Chat and many more opportunities to sit and have a chat with the people who come through the doors!
On Thursday evenings, Bideri and I have been celebrating mass (Jim was caught up in Coatbridge when the lockdown took place) and Archie has been shielding himself. It has been a challenging time for all of us, wondering when the doors will be open again, wondering about friends we have not seen and wondering how you are all getting along with your normal routines of life and prayer. Thankfully, the Lord has given us clement weather for gardening (if you have one), for walking, for sitting in the fresh air and for queuing outside the supermarkets!
With the plans for re-opening from the lockdown we have been looking at how we can respond to this. We have been looking at current guidance and we believe that the “feel” and ambience of the Centre will be adversely affected: the two-meter social distancing, use of the kitchen for breaks, use of the toilets, cleaning and preparation of rooms and spaces and protection of people who join us places huge restrictions on what we can offer. Hopefully, with the further easing of restrictions a new “normal” can be in place for us!
However, until then, we have decided that we will wait until the start of September to review our decision to stay closed. This has been a hard decision to take, but there are too many uncertainties at this time. We feel it is better to take out time and get it right for the benefit of all!
We hope that you understand our reasons and we hope that future contact will be more positive with a way we can re-open our doors to friends, groups and those who feel peace and warmth here.
Thursday evenings used to be the time for the Community Mass. For the moment we must continue to forgo that community gathering.
The Xaverian community spans the world. As we are unable to reach out physically to our own local communities and instead must go on line, so we are freed from the constraints of space and can join with other communities round the world.
This week, lets reach out to the Xaverian community in the Philippines. Have a look at their website and see how they view the world.
The Faith and Justice Commission was formed and commissioned by Bishop John Brewer on Peace Sunday 1990. With the Bishop as President, it is made up of two or three members from each of the seven geographical or pastoral areas of the Diocese, plus two ecumenical members.
Karl Rahner once said, ‘We must be willing to admit that, should the doctrine of the Trinity be discarded, the major part of religious literature could well remain virtually unchanged.’ The Trinity is supposed to be the central—even the paramount—doctrine of the Christian belief system. And yet we’re told, at least I was told as a young boy in Kansas, that we shouldn’t try to understand it because it’s a ‘mystery.’ But I believe mystery isn’t something that you cannot understand; rather, it is something that you can endlessly understand. We absolutely must maintain a fundamental humility before the Great Mystery; otherwise, religion worships itself and its formulations instead of God.
One of the major reasons the doctrine of the Trinity has been rediscovered in our time is that science and theology are beginning to use the same language, the language of relationship. In the beginning was 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. 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. This is where all the power for infinite renewal is at work. When Jesus’ prays that we will experience eternal life, he is inviting us to a Trinitarian way of living, loving, and relating.
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.
Adapted. Richard Rohr
Gospel: John 3:16-18
Jesus said to Nicodemus, ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.’