Fr Eamonn's Blog

THE WORD WHO IS LIFE: Reflection on the Future of the Diocese

THE WORD WHO IS LIFE
A time of Prayer and Reflection on the future of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton
(https://www.dabnet.org/news/view/205)

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The readings today – the third Sunday – have something to say to us about time, the proper use of the time given to us and to use it before it’s too late. Jonah warns the people of Nineveh that they will be destroyed in 40 days if they don’t repent and change their ways; Paul tells us that “our time is growing short” and Jesus says “the time has come! Repent and believe in the gospel!” And He invites the fishermen to move with Him in a new direction in life. It is a personal invitation to each one of us now and it is a communal one.

Bishop Richard, who is our Father and leader in our Catholic Spiritual life, has asked us to think and pray about the future of the diocese of Arundel and Brighton.

The background to this is the fact that the number of priests is decreasing and we are growing older, plus the fact that there are few young adults attending Mass. We have some very fine young people coming to Mass here in Hastings, there are wonderful young families but there is a general trend that sees religion being for young children and old people.

It’s vital for the future of the Church that the children now preparing for first Holy Communion do not disappear once they have received, we need them to stay with us because they are the future.

To help us in this time of reflection Bishop Richard has given us a few questions which are posted on the Sacred Heart School notice board in the church porch. Some of these questions are also available on a handout that will be distributed after Mass. You can take these questions home with you and in the course of the week I invite you to prayerfully ponder them and bring your responses back here next weekend. Boxes where you can place your questionnaire will be available in the porch.

There are two prayers printed on the questionnaire and I suggest we pray these as often as we can so that our responses may be influenced by God. Bishop Richard is very keen that this process be blessed by prayer so that our discernment is of the Holy Spirit and not simply human thinking.

One of these prayers is based on Pslam 25 which is the Responsorial Psalm for today, “Show us the right path, O Lord, point out the road for us to follow. Guide us by your truth and teach us, for you are the God who saves us.”

Another way of sharing your responses is to post your answers on the notice board. Post-it stickers and pens are available in the porch.

Everyone’s opinion matters; no voice is more or less important than another – the innocent voice of the child, the enthusiastic voice of youth, those who are single, married and the wisdom of those who have lived long years in the faith. It might also be good to talk about this as families around the table at home.

St. Vincent Pallotti, founder of the Pallottines, believed strongly that every baptized Catholic has the right and obligation to be involved in the work of Jesus in the Church, so we ask St. Vincent to pray for us that, like him, we may draw our inspiration and strength from Jesus in the Eucharist, in Holy Communion. The Eucharist is the source of all Catholic life and without it we have nothing.

Let’s pause and listen to the prayer of St. Richard of Chichester who is secondary patron of this diocese:

“Thanks be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits and blessings which you have given to me, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for me. O most merciful Friend, Brother and Redeemer, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly.” (St. Richard of Chichester, a patron of the diocese of Arundel & Brighton)

THE QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:

Each Catholic in the Diocese is called to be a disciple of Jesus and to bring others to know Him. We are invited to reflect on how we can best do this as a Community by prayer and by reflecting on the following questions:

1. What three things do you think we most need in order to fulfil our task as a parish and as a Diocese?
2. What roles can be best carried out by the lay-faithful?
3. What can you do as a member of the Catholic Community?
4. If we were starting the Diocese today, with 25 priests, where would you place them? (here we are asked to think beyond our own local parish)

[Optional:
Please circle the age bracket you belong to: 18 or under; 19-30; 31-50; 51 or over.
You are welcome to sign your name at the end if you wish.]

Please use the space below and on the reverse side to share your observations and reflections:

Fr Eamonn's Blog

EVEN SO MY SOUL: Reflection on Humility – Fr. Eamonn Monson sac

The greatest among you must be your servant. Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.’ (Matthew 23:12)

20171015_173944.jpgExperiences of humiliation can lead us to become humble but they are not in themselves virtuous; feelings of inferiority can also lead us to humility but they are not in themselves virtuous. Jesus calls us to humility and not to humiliation or inferiority.

My mother had a very simple answer to my inferiority complex! She said you should neither look up to anyone nor look down on anyone and that Jesus is the only one who is perfect.

So in my search for humility I am called to focus on Jesus rather than on self and through Jesus to be taken into the perfect embrace of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – where we encounter love and mercy in its perfection. Humility is born when I have the grace to be still and know that God is God and in His presence I “bow and bend low” in worship.

In His presence I discover who I am and who you are. None of us is either greater or less than the other. As Jesus says when He warns us against self-promotion, “you have only One Father”, One Master, One Teacher and we are all brothers and sisters.

Psalm 131 introduces us to the deepest possible form of humility:

Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord.

O Lord, my heart is not proud

nor haughty my eyes.

I have not gone after things too great

nor marvels beyond me.

Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord.

Truly I have set my soul

in silence and peace.

A weaned child on its mother’s breast,

even so is my soul.

Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord.

O Israel, hope in the Lord

both now and forever.

Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord.

My heart is not proud! Truly I have set my soul in silence and in peace. A weaned child on its mother’s breast, a child at rest in its mother’s arms, even so my soul! The heart of humility is here and this is who we are called to become – a trustful child in the arms of God.

I have had the grace to hold my five nephews and three nieces in their infancy. It has always been an experience filled with love and emotion. At Mass this morning I was asking the children if they had ever held a baby and a number of girls and boys said yes. “And what did it feel like?” I asked. The boys shrugged their shoulders but the girls said immediately that they felt love and they felt emotional! I guess the boys did too but they didn’t know how to put it into words.

Babies can be trustful and sometimes cautious and restless in the embrace of an adult. I’m thinking of the two youngest because my experiences with them are the most recent and therefore my memories of them are clearer.

Laura was the most chilled baby ever. I often tell her that she was silent for the first six months – until she found her voice and when she found that then there was no stopping her. She would just lay there sleeping or in a dreamlike daze. I have memories of her sound asleep on her father’s shoulder. She represents the kind of trustful abandon that is at the heart of Christian spirituality.

Katie was more alert and less inclined to sleep but I had this experience with her when she was a few months old. I went to visit one Saturday and Elaine was doing the cleaning, so she put Katie into my arms, put me into the sitting room, asked me to look after her and closed the door.

So we sat there on a rocking chair, Katie and me, playing and chatting in the way one does with a baby. And after a while she rested her head on my chest. So I sang to her. Sang songs in Swahili, sang hymns and she fell asleep with her head resting on my chest and she remained like that for over an hour.

This became for me a most precious period of meditation. I simply held her, gazed on her, felt the warmth of her. I was deeply touched by the way she trusted me enough to fall asleep and it seemed in this that God was inviting me to be like her – a child resting trustfully in His arms.

I go back to this from time to time. Each one of us can enter into such an experience in prayer. Simply close your eyes and in the privacy of your soul where only you and God abide. And there you can surrender to Him, be held by him, loved by Him.

In our strength we resist going to such a place within ourselves but Alcoholics Anonymous have discovered that surrender to the Higher Power is essential for recovery. Addicts in recovery understand this too.  Our Higher Power is God, revealed to us in Jesus.

It is especially important for us to surrender to the Divine Embrace where we are not well. Another memory from my own childhood is in a time when I was very sick with shingles, my mother took me into bed with Dad and herself and, though she could not take away the pain, could not make me better immediately, I felt secure in her embrace. And it’s the same with God. Not that He cannot take away the pain but He holds us through the necessary experience of pain and sees us through to the other side of it.