10th December. John Battle comes to speak at the Preston Centre

The Jesuits and Xaverians in Preston are hosting an evening talk by John Battle who is Chair of the Leeds Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission.  The talk will be introduced by Bishop Paul Swarbrick and followed by a group discussion, questions and answers.

The title of the talk is taken from a line in Pope Benedict’s First Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”.  John believes that we need to do things, to change things for the better and that requires that we get organised.  Referencing the relationship between prayer and action, he will draw analogies from the ruins of Kirkstall, a Cistercian Abbey near Leeds and Armley Remand Prison following Thomas Merton’s theme of the relationship between contemplation and action.

John was was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Leeds West from 1987 to 2010.

The Justice and Peace Commission seeks to identify and raise awareness of injustices and their root causes, whether they occur locally, nationally or internationally. The Commission does this in order to foster and encourage social change for a better world

As Christians we believe in the dignity of human beings and the rights of people to live in peace. We take action on the most pressing issues facing our communities, such as Climate Change, Poverty and racism.

The event is free but we will take bookings through Eventbrite so as to control numbers.  If you are unable or unwilling to tangle with Eventbrite then we can do that for you.  Let us know by signing the sheet on the reception desk or using the enquiry form here.

A new course for 2019: Exploring Faith Accompaniment

This course sponsored by the Diocese of Blackburn offers the opportunity to experience listening to God and to one another, travelling together in a context where learning is by reflection and practice.

The course will run on Mondays 9.30 – 3.30:
January 14th, 28th
February 11th
Weekend residential 1st – 3rd March
March 11th, 25th
April 8th 29th
May 13th,
June 10th, 24th

The course will be led by

  • Nick Mansfield: Nick is Warden of Spiritual Directors in the Diocese of Blackburn. He is a Parish Priest with experience of receiving and offering Spiritual Direction and has lead retreats, especially for people with learning difficulties.
  • ‘Tricia Impey: Alongside parish ministry Tricia has experience as a tutor in this field. She has led retreats, quiet days, prayer workshops and been involved in weeks of guided prayer, as well as Spiritual Direction.
  • Hugh Kidd: Hugh has been involved in previous courses, led Quiet Days and run several Soul Spark courses exploring prayer and spiritual growth. He is particularly interested in the inner spiritual journey invited by the outward challenges of our times.
  • Margaret Arrowsmith: Margaret has experience as a psychotherapist, trainer and tutor. She has contributed to retreat days, group work and a range of events involving spirituality and also provides Spiritual Accompaniment.

The course includes 10 days at the Xaverian Mission Spirituality Centre in Preston plus a residential weekend at Hyning Monastery.

Click here to download a flyer printable on A4.

Arrangements for the 5th to 9th November

The Xaverian community will be on retreat from the 5th to the 9th of November.  There will be a presence in the house but no Xaverian presence in the Preston Centre during that time.

As a consequence there will be no evening Mass on Thursday 8th November.  Other events on the calendar will go ahead as normal.


Reflection on 30th Sunday 28th October

Let me see again

Once again we hear Jesus ask the question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Last week, we saw that James and John responded to that question by requesting positions of prestige. This week, a vulnerable Bartimaeus’ response is ‘Let me see again.’ We can perhaps identify with the pain he has experienced in having lost the ability to see and his pain of having forgotten the beauty of all that is around him.

We are all aware that there are different ways of seeing. To illustrate this Richard Rohr tells the following story:

Three Ways to View the Sunset

Three men stood by the ocean, looking at the same sunset.
One man saw the immense physical beauty and enjoyed the event in itself. This man was the “sensate” type who, like 80 percent of the world, deals with what he can see, feel, touch, move, and fix. This was enough reality for him, for he had little interest in larger ideas, intuitions, or the grand scheme of things. He saw with his first eye, which was good.

A second man saw the sunset. He enjoyed all the beauty that the first man did. Like all lovers of coherent thought, technology, and science, he also enjoyed his power to make sense of the universe and explain what he discovered. He thought about the cyclical rotations of planets and stars. Through imagination, intuition, and reason, he saw with his second eye, which was even better.

The third man saw the sunset, knowing and enjoying all that the first and the
second men did. But in his ability to progress from seeing to explaining to “tasting,” he also remained in awe before an underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness that connected him with everything else. He used his third eye, which is the full goal of all seeing and all knowing. This was the best.

The mystical gaze builds upon the first two eyes — and yet goes further. It happens whenever, by some wondrous “coincidence,” our heart space, our mind space, and our body awareness are all simultaneously open and non-resistant. I like to call it presence. It is experienced as a moment of deep inner connection, and it always pulls you, intensely satisfied, into the naked and undefended now, which can involve both profound joy and profound sadness. At that point, you either want to write poetry, pray, or be utterly silent.

‘The Naked Now’ Richard Rohr

The more we can see our life experiences in the same way as the third man, then the deeper the pain we feel when circumstances cloud that vision. Then our prayer is also: ‘Lord, let me see again.’ When we lose sight of the wonder of who we are in God we are like the little 4 year-old girl who whispered to her baby brother: ‘Won’t you tell me what God feels like. I’m starting to forget.’

Speakers Corner

BISHOP PAUL SWARBRICK    This is the first of our Speakers Corner events. We are delighted to invite you to an informal audience with Bishop Paul Swarbrick, who will share the story of his journey so far. Entry free but donations welcome .

7pm Fri 30th November 2018

Order free tickets by clicking here.

OR ring Reception 01772 717122

OR contact Mary & Chris Cullen

Mob:- 07846 493933 or click here to email them.

Here is a link to the poster if you wish to help publicise the event.

Reflection on 29th Sunday 21st October

Can we drink the cup?

Jesus’ cup is the cup of suffering, not just his own suffering but that of the whole world. Sooner or later, life is going to lead you (as it did Jesus) into the belly of the whale, into a place where you can’t fix, control, explain, or understand (usually very concrete and personal; it cannot be merely theoretical). That’s where transformation most easily and deeply happens. That’s when you’re uniquely in the hands of God because you cannot “handle” it yourself.

In other words, you have to enter into at least one situation in your life where you’re not in control, you’re not ‘number one’, you’re not the best, you’re not in charge, you’re not right, you’re not winning – and see how you deal with that. And if you can come through that and come out the other side still happy, still trustful, still loving, saying ‘Yes’ to whatever each day brings – then you have gone through the mystery of death and suffering and coming out the other side better and more alive and more in love and, believe it or not, even more happy and more free. You have been led to the edge of your own resources, and learned how to rely upon The Resource, The Source: God. Then you know, maybe for the first time, who you really are. And it’s not just you but the God who is in you and with you and for you more than you are for yourself. And then you can freely do what Jesus says at the end of today’s Gospel reading: You don’t come to be served, but to serve; you don’t come for others to take care of you but you want to take care of others, the way you have been so beautifully taken care of.

Richard Rohr

‘I slept and dreamt that life was joy,
I woke and found that life was service,
I served and found that service was joy.’

R. Tagore

Reflection on 28th Sunday 14th October

What must I do?

The “Eye of the Needle” has been claimed to be a gate in Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was closed at night. A camel could only pass through this smaller gate if it was stooped and had its baggage removed.

An attachment is a major killer of life. Think of yourself in a concert hall. To really hear the symphony, you must be sensitively attuned to every instrument in the orchestra. When you take pleasure only in the drum, you cease to hear the symphony because the sound of the drum has blotted out the other instruments. A preference does not damage your capacity to hear and enjoy the other instruments, but the moment your preference turns into attachment, it hardens you to the other sounds and you suddenly undervalue them. Now look at a person or thing you have an attachment for: something or someone to whom you have handed over the power to make you happy or unhappy. Observe how, because of your concentration on getting this person or thing and holding on to it and enjoying it exclusively to the exclusion of other things and persons, and how, because of your obsession with this person or thing, you have less sensitivity to the rest of the world. You have become hardened. Have the courage to see how prejudiced and blind you have become in the presence of your attachment. When you see this, you will feel a yearning to rid yourself of every attachment.

Awareness shows you the loss you suffer when you overvalue the drum and when you turn a deaf ear to the rest of the orchestra. You will no longer think that your happiness depends on any person, anything or any situation or experience. Now you will move through life living from one moment to the other, wholly absorbed in the present, carrying with you so little from the past that your spirit could pass through the eye of a needle, as little distracted by the worries of the future as the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. You will be attached to no person or thing, for you will have developed a taste for the symphony of life. And you will love life alone with your whole heart and your whole soul and your whole mind and all your strength. You will find yourself unencumbered and free as a bird in the sky, always living in the Eternal Now. And you will have found in your heart the answer to the question, ‘Master, what is it that I must do to inherit eternal life?’

Anthony de Mello: The Way to Love

Again we thank Cathy York for providing this reflection.

The Adventures of a Vatican Astronomer

On Monday 8th October we hosted a wonderful talk by Br Guy Consolmagno SJ who with humour, clarity and humility told stories about life in the Vatican and his work as the Director of the Vatican Observatory.  The talk was very well attended, every seat taken and then some.

Guy took excellent questions from the floor at the end of the talk and he certainly earned the round of applause from an appreciative audience.

Our thanks to Shirley Russo for organizing this great evening.

If you missed the show and want to see Guy speak then there are a few talks of his available on YouTube.  For example try this one or this from TEDx

Reflection on 27th Sunday 7th October

Love upholds the dignity of all

We touch today on a very topical, very sensitive and very painful reality of life in our time – the question of divorce. However, today’s Gospel indicates that it was a controversial question in Jesus’ time and in his society also. “Men were the entitled ones in their society. Jesus challenged them to shed their entitlement, their sense of false empowerment. The gospels give many examples of how Jesus challenged every attempt at the domination of one group over another. When his own disciples try to take the high road of power, Jesus takes the low road to teach them his new ‘way’.

In today’s gospel, he challenges the domination of men over women. This is not so much a teaching on the indissolubility of the marriage bond as a teaching on the domination of men over women. The divorce laws of the day were mainly laws to protect men by allowing them to keep moving ahead freely and to abandon women without penalty. Jesus refuses to buy into that. He says, “From the beginning of creation God made them male and female.” He sees them as equals. “And the two shall be one flesh.” Jesus is preaching equality, not domination.” (Richard Rohr) Jesus always upheld the dignity of every human being. Later in the passage, he goes on to affirm the value and dignity of children, who were considered second class citizens in that society, just as women were.

Divorce is a reality of our lives and our world. Whatever the circumstances divorce always has profound and lasting consequences for all involved. Somehow love has to be preserved if wounds are to be healed. ‘Perfect families do not exist. This must not discourage us. Quite the opposite. Love is something we learn; love is something we live; love grows as it is “forged” by the concrete situations which each particular family experiences. Love is born and constantly develops amid lights and shadows. Love can flourish in men and women who try not to make conflict the last word, but rather a new opportunity. An opportunity to seek help, an opportunity to question how we need to improve, an opportunity to discover the God who is with us and never abandons us. This is a great legacy that we can give to our children, a very good lesson: we make mistakes, yes; we have problems, yes. But we know that that is not really what counts. We know that mistakes, problems and conflicts are an opportunity to draw closer to others, to draw closer to God.”

Pope Francis

Reflection on 26th Sunday 30th Sept

Where there is love, there is God

In today’s readings Moses and Jesus invite us to recognise that God – who is Love – is in everyone and where there is love there is God. We see in Jesus’ teaching that if we want to follow him we must have a gracious, open mind and heart, ready to affirm all that is good no matter where it comes from. We cannot limit the Spirit, we cannot limit truth to any religion or any group of people. “All of creation is sacred because it is made by God. To bless anything of creation, be this a person or an object, is to acknowledge the touch of the Creator upon that person or object. To bless is not so much to ‘make sacred’ as it is to acknowledge the sacredness that is already there.’ (J. Rupp) Today we are being invited to acknowledge and celebrate the sacredness in each one of us. How awesome is that!

There was once a great and famous sculptor who lived in Italy. One day, just as the sculptor was beginning to work on a new block of marble, he noticed a young boy standing in the doorway of his shop. The boy didn’t say anything. He just stood quietly watching the great man chisel away at the block. The boy came often to the sculptor’s workshop. He watched the chunks of marble fall away one by one – first large chunks, then finer and finer pieces – until he could see a form emerging from the marble. One day the boy arrived at the shop to find that the sculptor had finished his work. The block of marble had been transformed into a magnificent lion, poised and powerful and larger than life. For a long time the boy stood in amazement, just looking at the lion. Finally, he turned to the sculptor, his face full of wonder, and asked: “How did you know there was a lion inside that marble?”

It may take many years of chiselling for us to experience God’s hidden Life within us but when we do, we will then find Him within everyone we meet and we will respect how God works through them. We will recognise and support the working of the Spirit in each other, knowing that wherever there is love there is God.

Various sources

Our thanks, as always, to Cathy York for gathering and putting this together.