Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal
‘We Saw His Star in the East’.
King Herod was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him
Reflection Christ’s coming disturbs the ways of the world. He comes in humility, denouncing the evil of injustice and oppression that accompanies the ambition for power, wealth and status. Jesus calls for a change of heart and a transformation of life, which will bring liberation from all that dehumanises. This creates disturbance precisely because he rocks the boat of those who seek only their own interests and neglect the common good. But for those who work for peace and unity, Christ’s coming brings the light of hope.
We are invited to commit ourselves to act constructively to make justice a reality, acknowledging where we have strayed from God’s ways of justice and peace. Then the answer to our prayer for Christian unity becomes visible as others recognise in us Christ’s presence in the world. We can bring the light of hope to those living in the darkness of political unrest, social poverty, and structural discrimination. The Good News is that God is faithful, always strengthening and protecting us, inspiring us to work for the good of others, especially the victims of oppression, hatred, violencand pain.
Lord, you led us out of darkness to hope in Jesus.
Unite us in our commitment to establish your reign of love, justice and peace,
bringing light to those living in the darkness of despair and disillusionment.
Shine your light upon us and surround us with the warmth of your love.
Lift us up to you, so that our lives may glorify you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Psalm 2:1-10 Why do the nations conspire…?
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5 But the Lord is faithful, he will strengthen you
Go and do
Global: Covid-19 turned the world upside down and provided an opportunity to reimagine how things could be. Find out more about and get involved in the campaign to crack the crises and ensure this opportunity for transformation is not lost.
Local: Consider as churches together what situations of injustice or exclusion exist in your locality. Work with others in your community to challenge and change the systems that need turning upside-down.
Personal: Take time today to sit in stillness and discern what injustice most disturbs your conscience, spend time praying, researching and planning how you can take action about it (if you are not already involved in doing so).
Verse / Poem
In the school Nativity Play
they cast the class bully as Herod.
No acting required.
Jesus, you ask
which role shall I play
in my world, your world, today.
And you will me to seek first
your holy inspiration
that I might be just
QuestionsGlobal: Where have you seen the values of the Church disturbing
society’s values for the common good?
Local: Is your church or group of churches too comfortable in a
discomforting world? How could your church or group be disturbed into
Personal: When have you been disturbed into doing what was right?
#newsletter n.9 – 11/2021 – Available also in FR – PT – ES – ITShareTweetForwardShare Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean (Mexico City, 21-28 November 2021) This week was marked by this Ecclesial Assembly on the theme All of us are outgoing missionary disciples. Find out moreabout this important Church event. The text on Discernment is now available also in English, French, Italian and Spanish.Share your story! Are you witnessing or living a particular synodal experience? Do you think you have experienced a good practice and want to share it? Fill in the form and send it to email@example.com.
If your story appears to be original or considered a good practice, we will publish it in our next newsletter and who knows… maybe even in Vatican News! We are all in the one boat!The Synodal Pathway launch in Dublin: a diocesan story
Taking the image of the boat as mentioned in the official preparatory documents the liturgical space within the Cathedral was shaped in the form of a boat. The bow of the boat faced towards the Cathedral door emphasising mission and outreach to the peripheries. Read the full story.
Synodal spirituality We continue our journey to discover the spirituality of the different religious families, associations and ecclesial movements. Today we invite you to discover theFranciscan spirituality.
“The process of discernment never starts from abstract questions (at the table), but from concrete provocations of life, from inspirations and thoughts that arise in the encounter between the needs and provocations of life and the sincere and deep desire to be pleasing to God and to do his will.”. (From the Franciscan Spirituality by fr. Giulio Cesareo, OFM Conv)The Synod in the world
We continue to receive pictures, videos, … from all over the world showing the great creativity of our communities. Be inspired: come and see!
Listening to people with disabilities: We need you! We invite you to send materials and good practices for the involvement of people with disabilities in the synodal process to firstname.lastname@example.org#ListeningToAll #NobodyExcludedPray for the Synod In order to support the synodal journey and ask for the Spirit’s assistance, together with the World Network of Prayers of the Pope and UISG, we have set up a website in 5 languages: Church on the Way. Pray for the Synod. From 2 November, you too can send your prayer. See how to do it…
Our mailing address is:
General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops
Via della Conciliazione, 34
Vatican City 00120
Vatican City State (Holy See)
We have received this document from the Catholic Bishops of the World, inviting all to two years of listening, dialogue and discernment. We expect to hear more from Rome but also from our own bishops, and let’s hope that plain language is used throughout! We at Agnellus’ Mirror do strive for that, and will do so as we share our reaction to the downloadable documents listed below.
At this early stage, let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will not be prevented from breathing through the Church; but that the breath of each of us may be combined in a harmonious and diverse song of hope: do not let us promote disorder.
The Bishops offer their own prayer from the days of Vatican II: see below.
The Church of God is convened in Synod: a time of listening, dialogue and discernment that the whole Church intends to carry out over the next two years in order to better respond to its mission of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to the entire world.
These Litterae communionis (Letters of Communion) of the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops want to resume the ancient Christian tradition of sending epistolae among the Churches as an instrument of sharing and communion.
Accompanying this journey of the Church in a synodical manner also means informing and sharing the joys, hopes and good practices of our communities.
So: Set out on the road tooand share this newsletter with your friends!
YOUR FELLOW TRAVELLERS Download the Preparatory Document for the synodal journey! Downloadthe guide for listening and discernment.
Each session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus. As we are called to embrace this synodal journey, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to work in us so that we can be a community and a people of grace. For Synod 2021-2023, we propose to use this simplified version, so that any group or liturgical assembly can pray it more easily.
Copyright 2021 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is: General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops Via della Conciliazione, 34 Vatican City 00120 Vatican City State (Holy See) Add us to your address book
My Catholic primary school taught us stories from the Bible, one between two at a shared desk. We also heard about miracles outside Scripture, including visitations of Our Lady, especially at Lourdes and Fatima. I came to feel the emphasis on these ‘private revelations’ was excessive, but visiting England’s Walsingham, a shrine for almost 1000 years, set me thinking about the role of Mary ever since.
We’d been told that only Catholics honour Mary, yet Walsingham has beautiful Anglican and Orthodox Shrines as well as the Catholic one. Each one made us welcome. We learned that icons like the Mother of Perpetual Succour came from the East. Later, joining ecumenical pilgrimages meant walking and talking, eating and praying together.
This book may inspire the reader to go on pilgrimage to one of the featured shrines, or to turn the pages while voyaging in imagination, beads in your hand, a candle and pilgrim’s shell beside you. The many well-chosen pictures will help you to be there.
Doctor Samuel Johnson, a devout 18th Century Anglican philosopher, had this to say regarding pilgrimage: ‘To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish if it were possible’. In other words, there is room to be led by feelings as well as by intellectual theology when visiting shrines.
The book may set you thinking about Mary and her place in the life of the Church. When it first opened Walsingham’s Anglican shrine attracted charges of ‘Mariolatry’ – idolising Mary. Less stridently, others judge the honour given to Mary to be obscuring her Son. But on the Feast of the Assumption this year, Pope Francis pointed out that Mary was and remains humble, so that God was able to beget his Son through her and pour out blessings through her, down to today. So it is in humility that we should set out on pilgrimage, on foot, by transport, or through the imagination.
Whoever receives an apparition can expect grief from a naturally sceptical world and a deliberately sceptical Church which has to discern the spirits at work in these incidents. But once the Church has accepted an apparition as genuine, we can follow Johnson’s advice: ‘Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue.’
Wincenty Laszewski has limited his explorations to apparitions beginning from the late 19th Century, thus omitting Lourdes which still witnesses renewal of faith as well as physical and emotional healings. Renewal and healing occur at other shrines too, and Laszewski leads us to many across the world.
Fatima, whose Sister Lucia certainly suffered at the hands of the Church, is well known but most of these shrines were new to me. At Beauraing, Belgium, in the 1930s the children who saw and heard Mary came from families indifferent to religion; it was only after the Occupation ended that the local bishop could pronounce the supernatural nature of the events. The children faded into the background, later marrying and raising Christian families. Thus they lived out their response to Mary’s two questions: “Do you love my Son?” and “Do you love me?”
Far from there, in Ngome, South Africa, a German Benedictine missionary received visions in the 1950s. Sister Reinolda heard from Mary that she should be addressed as ‘Tabernacle of the Most High’, as she had held Jesus, the Host, in her womb and in her arms. It was time for Christians to be ‘a sea of hosts’ to bring Christ’s salvation to the world; a poetic but doctrinally orthodox idea. We are the Body of Christ, as Saint Paul proclaims (1 Corinthians 12:27). Mary also asked for a shrine where seven springs come together.
In Egypt it was at a Coptic Orthodox Church dedicated to Mary that she was seen by thousands of Muslims and Christians on a number of occasions. As always there is scepticism from more than one side, theories of mass suggestion or natural phenomena or fakery, as Laszewski makes plain. But in the spirit of ecumenism which characterises Egyptian Christianity, the Catholic Church accepts the judgement of the Orthodox Patriarch’s Commission that the apparitions, and subsequent individual healings, were God’s work.
Scepticism is an honest position to adopt towards apparitions, and always the first stance of the Church which proclaims Christ Crucified, foolishness to the Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23). But Mary makes the sign of the cross during many apparitions, indicating that the Cross is central to her message. Those who accept the divine origin of the apparitions should not disdain people who are indifferent or unmoved.
As time goes by, shrines may continue to flourish in ways that the original visionaries could not have expected. Who would have predicted today’s ecumenical scene in Walsingham? Mary was seen here before the Reformation, before even the Great Schism between Eastern and Western Christianity; now it is a place where some of those wounds are being healed. What blessings will be made available to the faithful and the world as these modern shrines find their lasting mission?
A few points regarding Wincenty Laszewski’s labour of love. At p197 he wrongly portrays Frank Duff as seeking permission of St John Paul II to found the Legion of Mary. Duff had begun this work in 1921 in Dublin, more than half a century before meeting the Pope in Poland. Saint Pius X became Pope in 1903, not 1913. Laszewski relates how his predecessor, Leo XIII had a vision of the 20th Century and its evils. The Pope did not reveal details of this event, but Laszewski claims it as a Marian Apparition because Leo championed the Rosary. Pious suppositions are not history!
I would not be alone in scratching my head over Laszewski’s description of Ngome as a place where natural realities came into contact with the supernatural. Springs of water have always been places where contact with the supernatural is a given, as at the Pool of Bethesda, or Lourdes, or many a holy well. In the words Chesterton put into the mouth of Mary, speaking to King Alfred:
The gates of Heaven are lightly locked,
We do not guard our gain,
The heaviest hind may easily
Come silently and suddenly
Upon me in a lane.
Lord, grant us eyes to see with and to discern your presence in the people we meet.
From a homily of Saint Oscar Romero, 1978, as relevant now as then.
Today the universal church celebrates World Communications Day. Let me say a few words to make all Catholics mindful of the importance of using the media of social communication in a critical and conscientious way. Through these marvellous means of communication—such as newspapers, radio, television, cinema—many ideas are communicated to large numbers of people, but often the media serve as tools of confusion. These instruments, as creators of public opinion, are often manipulated by materialist interests and are used to maintain an unjust state of affairs through falsehood and confusion. There is a lack of respect for one of the most sacred rights of the human person, the right to be well informed, the right to the truth. Each person must defend this right for himself or herself by using the media critically. Not everything in the newspapers, not everything in the movies or on television, not everything that is heard on the radio is true. Often it is just the opposite, a lie.
That is why critical people must know how to filter the media to avoid being poisoned with whatever falls into their hands. This is the type of awareness that the church wants to awaken today as we celebrate World Communications Day. We want people to read the newspapers critically and be able to say, «This is a lie! This is not the same thing that was said yesterday! This is a distortion because I have seen the opposite stated!» Being critical is a vital characteristic in our day, and because the church attempts to implant this critical awareness, she is facing some very serious conflicts. The reason is that the dominant interests want to keep people half-asleep. They do not want people who are critical and know how to discern between truth and falsehood. I believe that never before has there existed in the world, especially in a setting like ours, such a struggle—a struggle unto death—between the truth and the lie. The conflict at this time can be reduced to this: either truth or lies. Let us not forget that great saying of Christ: «The truth will set you free» (John 8:32). Let us always seek the truth!
There is a saying of Saint Augustine that I believe is very appropriate for these times: Libenter credimus quod credere volumus, which means, «We gladly believe what we want to believe». That is why it is so difficult to believe the truth: often we don’t want to believe the truth because it disturbs our conscience. But even though the truth may disturb us, we must accept it, and we must want to believe in it so that the Lord will always bless us with the freedom of those who love the truth. We should not be among those who sell the truth or their pens or their voices or their media to the highest bidder or to materialist interests. How sad it is to see so many pens being sold, so many tongues being fed through the slanderous words broadcast on the radio. Often the truth produces not money but only bitterness, yet it is better to be free in the truth than to have great wealth in mendacity.
St Oscar Romero, Ascension of the Lord. 7 May 1978 Read or listen to the homilies of St Oscar Romero at romerotrust.org.uk
DAY 1 You did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16)
Genesis 12:1-4 The call of Abraham John 1:35-51 The call of the first disciples
Prayer Jesus Christ, you seek us, you wish to offer us your friendship and lead us to a life that is ever more complete. Grant us the confidence to answer your call so that we may be transformed and become witnesses of your tenderness for the world.
Questions • Have you ever been aware that God was asking you or someone you know to begin a new journey in life – whether literally moving to somewhere else, or ‘changing direction’ in some other way? How did you respond? • What changes could your church or group of churches make to empower God’s people to walk more faithfully the path God has set for you, or to discern God’s guidance more clearly? • What are some of the stories of the ‘new’ members of your community, whether they have crossed a county boundary or journeyed across continents to get there?
The booklet for Church Unity week can be found here.
Good morning You will have picked up from my morning briefs and sermons that Bishop Rose has asked us to reflect upon three questions during this time. We are invited to submit our thoughts as a Benefice back to the diocese, by 22 September. The ministry team worked on this recently, and PCC’s and compiled their thoughts, which are attached, and the PCC’s are working on this. I would be enormously grateful if you could read it, and prayerfully answer the same three questions:
What are we noticing of God’s movement at this difficult time?
What are we learning as we reflect on how God seems to be moving?
What might we let go of or allow to die so that we may enter a new future with God?
For those who would welcome the chance to chat this through, please do attend either/both these meetings, one during day and one in evening for those who work. Also to help with your reflections, the diocese have provided some ‘background’ info to put it into context for those who would like to know more. Again this is attached, and on our website.I appreciate this is difficult to do in isolation, but it is so important at this time, that we all prayerfully discern what God is saying to us, and feed that back to the Diocese.
Thank you, and God Bless Jo
Rev Jo Richards Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury Tel: 01227 786109Text: 07824 155355Email: email@example.com
St. Ignatius warns against thinking of grace as our right, rather than as a freely given gift. We shouldn’t insist on attending Mass simply because it is our right to do so. We shouldn’t go to Mass because of some attachment to routine or a sense of normality. Those motivations are self-centered, and not God-centered. Rather, we should seek to have a genuine desire to draw closer to God.
If we think that the desire to go to Mass is our own and not itself a gift, we might take this temporary distance from the Eucharist as a lesson to grow in gratitude for God’s many gifts.
Conversely, if you have grown attached to watching a streaming Mass, selecting your favorite priest, enjoying the comforts of your own home, or (God forbid!) multitasking, you should probably “act against” the preference for streaming Mass and go to receive the Eucharist in person.
This window explicitly links the Ascension to Pentecost, ten days later. And there seems to be a female presence in the shape of Mary and another woman in each scene, which is as it should be, despite the Lectionary airbrushing the women out of the Pentecost day reading from Acts.
But today is Ascension Day – Why are you looking up into the sky? What do you expect to see?
Or we could put the Angel’s question another way: if you are looking for Jesus where do you expect to find him? Among the clouds; really? Whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it for me. It began with mutual support as the disciples continued to come to grips with all that had happened.
Here and now we can pray for the Spirit to fill our hearts with love, and give us eyes to see Jesus in our neighbours, family, friends.
My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: so shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble.
A couple of days before I wrote this reflection, I allowed wisdom and discretion to depart from mine eyes. I walked out of my way in the season of wet leaves: my foot stumbled, I fell heavily, ‘nearly broke my neck’ as my father used to say, and actually broke my thumb – but I live to tell the tale. The family are threatening me with all sorts of restrictions and personal alarms, in fun, I hope; and Christmas passed without a gift-wrapped personal alarm to my stocking.
But of course, we should keep our eyes open, and see the world through the lenses of wisdom and discretion. The Book of Proverbs is full of advice which we will dip into over the coming months, but here’s another take on wisdom and discretion. The wise and sometimes indiscreet Dominican friar, Herbert McCabe said that, ‘the notion of blind obedience makes no more sense in our tradition than blind learning.’* And is that more of a challenge for the one commanding, or for the one expected to obey?
*Quoted in Timothy Ratcliffe OP, Alive in God, A Christian Imagination, London, Bloomsbury, 2019