Tag Archives: community

June 22: Shared Table V, A big Miracle.

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Do I need to add that it was another true story? One of the most spectacular shared meals of all time, that puts into the shade our small miracle recalled in Tuesday’s post – and it happened in the unforgiving Galilean sunshine. 5,000 men, not to mention women and children, all of them fed from  five loaves and two little fish.

John’s account (Chapter 6) tells us that the food was offered by a small boy. So even then, the Lord depended on others to complete his work.

John also tells us that Jesus spoke about himself as real food:

For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.

Well, they did not get it, those who walked no more with him. But do we get it? Remember  Herbert McCabe:

The doctrine of transubstantiation, as I see it, is that the bread and wine become more radically food and drink.

To the naked eye the Eucharist is nothing like as spectacular as the feeding of the five thousand, at which Jesus floated the idea of his body as food to his followers. But consider how we feel more alive in the company of loved ones, as part of a crowd with a purpose such as cheering on a sports team; breathing the same air, hearing and singing the same chants, sharing conversation. We feel energised.

We can be less than 100% attentive to what is being said and done at Mass, receiving the Sacrament in a daze of fatigue or fret. But our presence, our extended hand, are there not just in the moment, but more radically are on the brink of the eternal moment.

(I doubt the loaves and fish were as big as these carved on Strasbourg Cathedral)
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June 20: Shared Table III, the Small Miracle, a True Story.

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There were four of us living in the L’Arche house, a couple of kilometres from the community hub, but just by the railway station. Marie and I were cooking ribs and rice with salad. The door bell rang, and rang again. Gwen and Andrew had almost an hour before the next train to Canterbury: come in, sit down, you’ll join us of course.

The bell rang again: three coming off the down train; that made nine, and six friends walking by the top of the road also came down to our door.

I do remember there were eventually fifteen souls – and fifteen spicy ribs: one each! Plenty of rice, even if cooked in relays as none of our pans were big enough; plenty of salad, and there just happened to be a cake and plenty of room on the floor.

Not the meal we’d planned exactly, but we all ate what was placed before us, some with forks, some with spoons, (Luke 10 again) and some of the visitors helped with the washing up!

MMB.

The photo shows preparations for another shared meal at L’Arche Kent, 30 odd years on. I think Peter, second right, was among us at the spontaneous occasion described above. 

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June 18: Father’s Day.

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It was one of those moments. I had been mulling over finding passages for the blog from George MacDonald, the XIX Century Scottish writer, when I found a stall in Canterbury giving out free books – it was World Book Day – including The Gospel in George MacDonald, edited by Marianne Wright, and published by Plough  , the publishing arm of the Bruderhof communities. They have a base near Canterbury at Nonnington. So no prizes for guessing which book I chose. Thank you, Plough!

This passage is one that Marianne Wright chose; the book it’s from is The Seaboard Parish, freely available at Gutenberg .

So, let’s get to the meat, some thoughts on being a father. They may be expressed in XIX Century terms, but I find myself agreeing with them wholeheartedly.

WT

This brings me to speak again of my lovely child. For surely a father may speak thus of a child of God. He cannot regard his child as his even as a book he has written may be his. A man’s child is his because God has said to him, “Take this child and nurse it for me.” She is God’s making; God’s marvellous invention, to be tended and cared for, and ministered unto as one of his precious things; a young angel, let me say, who needs the air of this lower world to make her wings grow.

And while he regards her thus, he will see all other children in the same light, and will not dare to set up his own against others of God’s brood with the new-budding wings. The universal heart of truth will thus rectify, while it intensifies, the individual feeling towards one’s own; and the man who is most free from poor partisanship in regard to his own family, will feel the most individual tenderness for the lovely human creatures whom God has given into his own especial care and responsibility.

Show me the man who is tender, reverential, gracious towards the children of other men, and I will show you the man who will love and tend his own best, to whose heart his own will flee for their first refuge after God, when they catch sight of the cloud in the wind.

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17 June: Welcome under my roof.

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One Sunday I walked home from Mass with Anna, and accepted her invitation to share a coffee.

I watched as she lit two candles on her mantelpiece then took from under her coat a pyx containing the Blessed Sacrament from the celebration we had just attended.

‘Maggie won’t be up yet, so I always bring the Lord home and make him welcome; that’s what the candles are for, to remind me he’s here and remind him too.

‘Not that he isn’t here all the time, but he’s come all dressed up, so to speak, and he gets the full works.’

And then we sat and chatted for an hour, in His presence, till it was time for Anna to take the Sacrament to Maggie.

MMB.

 

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16 June: A very happy First Communion

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Another story from Fr Andrew SDC.

My poor consumptive girl made a very happy First Communion last Friday. I sat for about an hour yesterday with her poor little weary head on my shoulder while I read and prayed her to sleep. She cannot lie back, because she has consumption in the throat, but to lean up against someone is her best chance of getting a tiny doze. I should think another week would see her in a better world … She told me she has never been so happy before, so that is another bright shining payment from our divine Lord for work in his vineyard.

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June 7. Justice III: Justice and the Other

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Photo: L’Arche.

A theme underlying the Catechism’s teaching on the virtue of justice, but which could easily be missed, is that justice is a virtue by which we focus on others’ rights and claims.

We are perhaps encouraged by our culture to be aware of justice or injustice in the political sphere. But apart from that, our culture today teaches us to be most aware of injustices done to ourselves. We are taught to ask “what about me?” rather constantly. Granted, in a world where we can easily be victimised by entire systems of injustice, this is an important and necessary question to ask. The virtue of justice does not require us to be victims. On the contrary, this virtue is about opposing injustice wherever we find it. But, it is possible to go overboard here. It is the justice of the nursery, of the two-year-old, and of the ghetto, that regards everyone as a potential robber and enemy. It is important to grasp that in the virtue of justice, its principal act is to honour the legitimate rights and claims of others.

So then, St. Thomas Acquinas tells us in his Summa Theologica (II.II, Q.58:1): ‘It is proper to justice, as compared with the other virtues, to direct man in his relations with others.’ The other virtues – prudence, courage and temperance – are formed within the mind and emotions of the individual. They may involve other people, but they may not. Justice, on the other hand, exists in relation to others. It works to maintain a certain equity between a need and the fulfilment of that need. The obvious example is in the payment of a just wage for a service rendered. But there are deeper and more subtle considerations relative to justice, which we shall explore in the coming posts.

SJC

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4 June, Pentecost: A Young Missionary’s Prayer.

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I’ve been saving this post for months now, but it seemed most appropriate for Pentecost. Patrick Kalonji Kadima is a young Congolese man training to become a Missionary of Africa in Ghana, a long way from home. This post is taken from letters he wrote to his confreres.

Newsletter South Africa No 66  FrDear Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings from Ghana,  where I am appointed for pastoral experience. The aim of these two years is to train me and prepare me for missionary life. These are years when the apostolic and pastoral components (working with youth, community development, various visits to the local people, catechism classes, to mention but a few) are predominant. The main task is for the apostolate, as well as a time of discernment. It will be a time of test to see if I have the necessary qualities to live a missionary life.

My community is made of four members, two confrere-priests, John Amona (Ghana) and Gazena Haile (Ethiopia) and one who is in his second year of pastoral experience, Martial Kedem (Burkina-Faso). The four of us, from different parts of Africa, form a community of Missionaries of Africa in Nyankpala.

I will soon be in the village for the language. Your prayers for this, I will really appreciate. Dagbani, is my first African language that I will sit down and concentrate on learning as such. I wish to speak it like a native speaker. It is not a Bantu language, but I am willing to put much effort into it. May the almighty God, who blew on the Apostles the Holy Spirit to speak in various languages; may He blow in me as He did with them.

I ask for your prayers that I may constantly listen to God’s voice and continue trusting Him in my life. I too, will keep you in my prayers. Happy new month of September! May Christ’s peace be with you all.

Your Brother in Christ.

Patrick Kalonji Kadima.

Read more about how Africans are travelling across their continent to bring the Good News at this link:

A Letter from Africa

And pray that the Spirit may blow through Patrick and all Missionaries; may they be on fire with his love – and may we too remember that we are Missionaries, sent to share the Joy of the Gospel with whomsoever we meet.

MMB.

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3 June: E is for East End of London

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‘You turn by this big Catholic Church’, my son told his mother who was to pick him up from the flat he’d been living in over the summer. ‘That’s where I was baptised’, I said. ‘Limehouse’ is on my birth certificate, and you can’t get more East End than that. More East End than Walford, and on a quiet night, you can hear Bow Bells. Is there ever a quiet night?

Mother, aged 18, had joined Dad at Saint Mary and Saint Michael’s parish where he was running the Boys’ Club, and a whole new world was opening before her eyes. Across the street was the Mosque with whom they were on friendly terms;  there were many synagogues within walking distance. It was by no means just Jewish people who had landed in this dockland parish from across Europe and around the world.

A Frenchwoman took her under her wing to negotiate the local markets and learn to cook exotic dishes such as Spaghetti Bolognese; yes, this was 1948-50! She experienced great solidarity from the Jewish and Italian traders who understood about beginning a new life in unfamiliar surroundings. Somehow the portions she received from Mrs Guazzelli in  her café were that little more generous than the ration books might require. She learned from her friend how to buy wisely on the street market.

Another friend, my Godmother, kept in touch with me and my parents till her death. She was East End English Catholic all the way through.

My parents had to leave Stepney while I was still a toddler, happily watching the largely horse-drawn traffic on Commercial Road. I remember nothing of my time there, but living in the East End opened my parents’ eyes to other, quite  different ways of life that good people were following in good faith. Some of their openness has rubbed off onto their children. May we continue to spread it.

MMB.

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Awareness?

margatesunset-21-1-17Margate Sunset, as beloved by JWM Turner.

 

My wife’s nursing magazine says this is ‘Sun Awareness Week’. I’m more aware of the cold North Wind today.

However the weather, here is a reflection on the sun, on not taking things for granted – and, appropriately after Christopher’s post yesterday, the Our Father. Click on the link to read Fr James Kurzynski’s post from the Vatican Observatory website.

Sun awareness

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7 April, Shared Table XII: Washing Up is Part of the Meal.

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I’m afraid this posting is well and truly out of sequence! Our Shared Table season will begin at Corpus Christi, June 18 in England, but this follows on from yesterday’s reflection on ‘eat whatever they set before you.’

More than one local miner told me that the men who had been sent down here to Kent to open the new pits were largely the ‘awkward squad’ from mines in Scotland, Wales and Northern England. George was one of the last-named. His reputation lives on, as I discovered maybe twenty years after he left us, when I was working in his village of Aylesham.

George was not awkward for the sake of it. He saw the hardships and injustice his fellow miners endured in the days before the pits were nationalised and did something about it. He often pointed out that landowners whose fields sat over coal measures earned more from selling the concessions than the miners who endured harsh conditions to dig it out. George conquered a stammer to be able to stand up and speak for his fellow workers. He even went back to the mines after spending his War service in the Merchant Navy.

In his ill-health retirement – coal was not always kind to those who worked it – he came to L’Arche from home, working in the garden or the workshop, sharing our meals, and always first at the sink when washing up was to be done. There was always plenty of it, and if George did not cook, he certainly contributed to the meal and to the community in this way.

George was a cheerful giver, and is no doubt cheerful in a happy place now.

MMB.

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