Capacitar dates for the remainder of 2019

We are pleased to confirm the following dates for the Capacitar Wellbeing sessions for the rest of the year.

These excellent sessions have become very popular and you need to book.  Bookings can be made by following the link and using the form towards the bottom of the event description.  The form will send an email to Anne Harrison.

Website Survey

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on the recent website survey.

Mostly you are content but there are some conflicting opinions relating to the News which we must try to reconcile.

The first attempt has been to modify the Home page so that it now shows the News separately from the Gospel Reflections which we hope adds clarity by allowing each to have its space.

A common theme was to provide more News items focussed on feedback from events. It is an excellent idea although it relies on the willingness of participants and leaders to provide the material and they may have legitimate reservations about that, so lets see how it unfolds.

There are other comments and we need to work on them!

Once again, thanks to everyone who gave their views.

New Events: ACTA returns to the Centre

ACTA “A Call to Action”  have three new events on the calendar that you may be interested in.

  1. On the 18th May Rose and Greg McCrave will lead us in exploring and experiencing the joy and companionship of being part of the Body of Christ by belonging to smaller groups.
  2. On the 13th July Simon Stewart, chaplain at The Cornerstone, a community hub which is part of Lancaster Methodist Church, will be reflecting on what he has learned from ministering in the centre of town and on his recent experiences as a prison chaplain.
  3. On 12th October there is the ACTA National Conference in Manchester.  Diarmuid O’Murchu will speak on the theme of “Imagining the Church of the future”.

All the details are on the calendar, just click on the dates above.

If you have any problems using the calendar then please contact us using the form on the Enquiries Page and we will see if we can help.

Reflection on the 5th Sunday in Lent: 7th April 2019

Divine Mercy

‘If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.’ (Goethe). Jesus sees the potential in every person he meets. Today’s gospel shows us how in his presence people feel capable of more. He guides them to the realisation that their growth is far from finished. Mercy gives the sinner a future when there seems to be no future. He recognises the wrong done but does not demand a penalty for it. This gospel passage models mercy at its very best. Mercy looks at others with compassion, it understands, it does not condemn, it sets free, it enables, it gives life. This ideal continues to inspire many, but for a variety of reasons Jesus’ example of tenderness and mercy proves difficult to imitate. Some of the hindrances to that imitation need to be named if we are to overcome them.

One obstacle is fear. The scribes and Pharisees are very uncomfortable with moral failure. According to their standards of justice the sinner must pay the price for what he/she has done. If the law is not kept and failure isn’t punished then the danger is that chaos will take over and chaos is very scary. In their eyes the observance of the law makes for order and that keeps chaos at bay. For Jesus too the law gives direction to life, but he looks to its deeper significance and to the need to understand each individual who seeks to follow its guidance.

Another obstacle is the self-centredness that wants more, whether it is more freedom, more control, more material goods or more power. This attitude finds tolerance and forgiveness very demanding. It is becoming increasingly evident that the more individual our views and beliefs become, the higher the levels of intolerance.

A story that begins with deathly accusation ends with divine mercy. Where the community’s condemnation would have led the adulterous woman to death, Jesus’ mercy leads her to new life. A story that begins with exposing the sin of an individual ends with exposing the sinfulness of all. Where the community begins with awareness of the woman’s sinfulness, this encounter with Jesus makes them aware of their own sinfulness. A story that begins with human testing of the divine ends with divine invitation to repent. Jesus reveals a new order in which all are called to repentance and the experience of divine mercy. Jesus’ desire for us is not death but new life.

Sources: galwaydiocese.ie/reflection; Living Liturgy

Reflection on the 4th Sunday in Lent: 31st Mar 19

Going Home

The Younger Son

I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. I realise that the real sin is to deny God’s first love for me, to ignore my original goodness. Because without claiming that first love and that original goodness for myself, I lose touch with my true self and embark on the destructive search among the wrong people and in the wrong places for what can only be found in the house of my Father. The younger son’s return takes place in the very moment that he reclaims his sonship.

The Elder Son

Both sons need healing and forgiveness. Both need to come home. Both need the embrace of a forgiving father. But it is clear that the hardest conversion to go through is the conversion of the one who stayed at home. The ‘lostness’ of the elder son is more difficult to identify. After all he did all the right things. His form of ‘lostness’ is deeply rooted and it is hard to return home from there. Although we are incapable of liberating ourselves from our frozen anger, we can allow ourselves to be found by God and be healed by his love through the concrete and daily practice of trust and gratitude. Trust is that deep inner conviction that the Father wants me home. As long as I doubt that I am worth finding and put myself down as less loved than my younger brothers and sisters, I cannot be found. Gratitude and resentment cannot co-exist since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as gift. Gratitude, however, claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift, a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

Rembrandt’s The Return of the Prodigal Son

The Father

Today’s gospel is a story that speaks about a love that always welcomes home and always wants to celebrate, Being in the Father’s house means that I make the Father’s life my own and that I be transformed into his image. The return to the Father is ultimately to become the compassionate Father.

Henri Nouwen: The Return of the Prodigal Son

Mothering Sunday: 31st March 2019

For Mothering Sunday we have this lovely piece from one of our community.

As I sat beside mum on April 9th last year to ‘officially’ receive her dementia diagnosis, an unusual sense of peace surrounded me. The lovely large gentle Nigerian ‘african mama’ type  psychiatrist tried to explain to her that she had Alzheimer’s disease and there were four different tablet options, and mum could try them one at a time to see which one suited her best.  She spoke in an easy almost casual tone as though she was offering her four hats, all different colours and each with its own ‘advantages’!  Mum wasn’t in the slightest bit phased and just nodded politely and said ‘thank you very much Doctor, thank you for your time’. The two of us left and did what we always did in these situations, got back in the car and headed to the nearest tea shop. A scone and pot of tea and all would be well.  In fact, these appointments were as routine to us as they probably were to the psychiatrist. This is because mum is 86, I’m 56 and for more than the last 40 years we’ve attended as many psychiatric appointments, as we’ve had scones…..well almost! Mum has suffered severe depression for most of her life. Now Alzheimer’s has come along and I want to share the ‘friend’ it has been to us in the last year .

For the first time in our lives we are living without her depression simply because as a result of Alzheimer’s, Mum’s FORGOTTEN everything she was depressed about!  Namely a terrible childhood, 50 years of a predominantly unhappy marriage, a lifelong battle with no self esteem etc.  Whilst she can clearly remember a period of her life from about the age of 17 – 27, her Alzheimer’s symptoms mean that for some reason she chooses to recall mainly only HAPPY memories. It is incredible that she has forgotten where she lived for the last 60 years and the jobs she did too. ALL those years have just disappeared. As her primary carers, this takes some getting used to for myself and my husband who have looked after her for the last 40. But for her it is a total gift. She lives not in the past, nor in the future, but only in the present moment. Often not even in the present day, as by evening she usually can’t recall much if anything of the afternoon, she is only present to the moment by moment clock!

This means that she lives now like at no other time in her previous years. As a workaholic, she had no hobbies, no interest in her world around especially nature, which always saddened me, as I always loved every aspect of the natural world. We never had flowers in our home, as she wouldn’t have dreamt of spending money on them when she hadn’t  enough for food. Now, wherever we go, she wants to stop and admire flower, plants, trees, birds, sky, sun, moon anything she can see! Her favourite place to go to is church. She has a deep devotion to Our Lady and in church, whilst she has little engagement with the ‘theology’, she loves the statues, candles, stained glass, flowers and sings along following the readings and joining in the prayers. The vibrance of our liturgy is itself a gift for her, that I too often take for granted.

I don’t want this to sound like Alzheimer’s hasn’t come with its challenges because of course it has. The tablets didn’t ‘suit’ her, and we’ve made all sorts of ‘adaptations’ to her independent living apartment.  We have also had to change many things within our family  in order to accommodate ‘Nanna’s needs’, but overall I wouldn’t have my last 56 years of her back. As ‘Mum with Alzheimers’ at 86 she’s not in any pain, she knows she’s deeply  loved, she laughs a lot and tells me she is looking forward to our next walk and tea shop trip. There’s much to be said for ‘Contented Dementia’!

“Do Not Be Afraid For I Am With You Always”.  HE is and we aren’t! Thanks Be To God.

Reflection on 3rd Sunday in Lent: 24th Mar 19

Choose life

Lent is intended to be a time of new life, a new springtime. The story of the fig tree is a reminder of the areas where there is zero growth in our lives. That stagnation could be the consequence our fears, prejudices, judgements and condemnations, the need for control, the victimisation of others and our impoverishment of God. Without even being noticed, buried anger can drain away the energy that could foster growth and peace.

God is willing to dig in the dirt of our lives

God does not cut down life. God gives, sustains, and grows life. He is a compassionate and caring gardener who seeks to nourish life, who is willing to get down on his hands and knees, to dig around in the dirt of our life, to water, even spread a little manure, and then trust that fruit will grow. This gardener sees possibilities for life that we often cannot see in our own or each other’s lives. Fruit, for this gardener, is not a payment, a transaction, or a ransom for being permitted to live another day. It is instead the result of mutual love, relationship, and presence. It is the evidence of life. Jesus does not seem as concerned about why people die as why people do not live. Everyone dies but not all truly live. Jesus’ call to repentance (i.e. change of heart ) is the invitation to choose life.

Now is the time to examine the fig tree of our life. Where is our life bearing fruit? Where is it not? Where do we need to spend time, care, and energy nurturing life and relationships? What are our priorities and do they need adjusting? Who or what orients our life? Are we growing or are we “wasting the soil” in which we have been planted? Repentance is the way to life, the way of becoming most authentically who we are and who, at the deepest level, we long to be. Ultimately, repentance is about choosing to live and live fully.

Michael Marsh

In Spanish the word manana means tomorrow or some unspecified time in the future. In common usage it often refers to postponing something, putting it on the long finger, delaying a response, not getting ruffled by events but adopting a carefree attitude. When one Irish man was asked if his language had a word that corresponded to manana, he said that it had in fact three words but none of them conveyed the same sense of urgency!

Heads Up: New Event on the Calendar

We have a new Event on the Calendar. Mary and Chris Cullen are organising an event called “Mind and Body for Your Wellbeing” on Sunday 14th April.

Would you like to have some time and space for yourself, to relax, refresh and renew a sense of balance in yourself?

  • Do you feel a need to unwind or to de-stress?
  • Are you in a stressful work situation or in some aspect of your life?
  • Or would you simply value some down time, just for you, in the midst of your busy life?

Maybe this event is for you!!

Our ‘Mind and Body for your Wellbeing’ morning is designed to give you some time and space to relax and unwind. We hope it will help you become more aware of how your mind and body holds stress and tension and what you can do to restore a sense of calm and balance in yourself.

The ‘Mind and Body for your Wellbeing’ morning will include-

*Introduction to the morning to help participants focus and relax

  • Gentle 1 hour yoga session to ground participants and to create a sense of calm in the body

(no experience necessary but if you have a yoga mat please bring it along with you)

  • Breathing work 1 hour (Pranayama – which is a focus on the regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises) This session will enable participants to have a direct experience of the effect of the breath on the mind and body.
  • Mindful Meditation 1 hour – a range of short mindful meditation techniques will be used to give an insight into how mindfulness and meditation can train our attention and awareness to help us achieve a calm and stable inner state.

Please note:-

Bring a yoga mat if possible or email mecullen@gmail.com if you need a mat to be available for you.

The ‘Mind and Body for your Wellbeing’ morning is for you and the sessions will not make any demands on you to be interactive with other participants.

The session will end at 1pm. If you would like to bring your own lunch to eat at 1pm then you are very welcome to stay a little longer.

The sessions will be led by very experienced trainers Geoff Lofthouse and Helen Molyneux

Have your say: Feedback on website

xaverians.org.uk is one today

Today, 23rd Mar 19, is the 1st anniversary of the launch of this website. It was originally intended as the site for the Xaverians in the UK. Since then we have seen a few changes not least of which that the Xaverians in the UK have created a new site xavs.org and the site xaverians.org.uk has become focused on serving the Preston community.

Any anniversary is a good opportunity to stop and reflect. Can you help us with this by completing this short on-line questionnaire? This is a chance to say what you like and do not like, put forward ideas and ask questions. Please click here to have your say.  We really would appreciate your input.