Advent is a continuous call to hope:
It reminds us that God is present in history to lead it to its ultimate goal and to its fullness, which is the Lord Jesus Christ.
– Pope Francis
Welcome from the CEO
Welcome to the re-launched CSAN newsletter. To all our subscribers, thank you for your patience. It has been a time of transition in the team, but we’re now good to go again and we’re hoping to bring you a newsletter at least quarterly. Your feedback is always welcome. If you have any suggestions for the newsletter, or stories of social action in the Catholic community you think we should feature, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with Newsletter in the subject box.
We are now in the season of Advent, the season of hope. It can be difficult in the face of hardship and struggle to believe in hope. It can sound like a pious cliché, if it is only some vague aspiration that somehow things will get better. Christian hope is rooted in the reality of the Incarnation, the Word of God made flesh in the poverty of a manger in Bethlehem. Our hope is in the Good News of Jesus, a vision for a new way of being human and belonging, a vision of a kingdom of love, justice and peace. As Christians we don’t just sit around waiting for that to happen. We are part of making it happen. We are ambassadors for that Good News.
May God bless all your work for the kingdom this Advent.
You will find more information and resources on the season on Advent at the Bishops’ Conference website: https://www.cbcew.org.uk/advent/
Cost of Living Crisis
What has been exposed by the pandemic and the cost of living crisis is what was there all along, hidden in plain sight. Vast inequality between the most wealthy and the poorest, public services in a state of collapse after years of underinvestment (despite the brief springtime of appreciation during lockdown), millions of people living in poverty and isolation.
We were not in a strong position when the situation worsened. We can see this all too clearly now as the UK is the slowest of the developed countries to recover from the pandemic. Our member charities know this reality. They work on the front line of disadvantage every day and report steeply rising levels of need for the basics of life, as well as more and more need for mental health support.
So what can we do, what should we do? Christians have always responded to need, since the very first days of the Church. People in parishes all over England and Wales are mobilising to meet the humanitarian crisis in our country. Our charities are always looking for volunteers. If you’d like to find out more about the inspiring range of work they do, please visit our website: https://www.csan.org.uk/member/. A major part of our work in the coming months will be sharing stories form our members, case studies of the work they do and the impact they have. We will feature testimonies from volunteers and project workers as well as the voices of lived experience, glimpses into the reality of what it is like to live without access to the basics for a dignified life.
The Catholic tradition has always insisted on justice as well as charity. In September of this year, the Bishops’ Conference Department for Social Justice published a Briefing Paper on the cost of living crisis. The paper included specific ‘asks’ of the government. You can read the full paper here: https://www.cbcew.org.uk/briefing-cost-of-living-crisis/. In our Cost of Living campaign we invite the Catholic community to write to their MPs with a version of these ‘asks’ modified in the light of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 17 November. You will find more about how to get involved in our campaign here: https://www.csan.org.uk/cost-of-living-crisis/.
Homes for Ukraine
The other major initiative we are involved in this winter is the Homes for Ukraine matching service. This is a partnership between CSAN member St John of God Hospitaller Services and CSAN. The service brings together those in this country who are willing to host and those Ukrainian families who are looking for a home to live in, having been displaced by the brutal war in their homeland. Not everyone at this difficult time will have the means to host a visiting family, but for those who do, we would urge you to consider this opportunity to put faith into action by welcoming the stranger.
You will find more information about the service here: https://sjog-homesforukraine.uk/
Aspiring Leaders’ Conference
In June of this year, the first cohort of CSAN’s new ‘Aspiring Leaders’ programme gathered at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine’s in London for their first residential. The programme is designed for those who aspire to a leadership role in a Catholic setting. There were twenty participants in total drawn from a range of CSAN member organisations, and one participant from Caritas Europa. They were supported in learning groups by four facilitators, all experienced CEOs and Directors from the CSAN network.
Clifton Diocese joins the Network
Clifton Diocese is the Catholic diocese covering the West of England and includes the City and County of Bristol, the counties of Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath and Northeast Somerset.We spoke with Jason Charewicz, Caritas and Environmental Officer to find out more about their work.
Caritas Salford on the Cost of Living Crisis
Find out about what Caritas Salford are observing and how they are responding to the situation in the Northwest of England, including details on their #BeeThere campaign this Advent. Caritas Salford is seeing significantly increased demand for support across its services, as it responds to people facing acute crisis this winter.
Pact wins new contracts
Pact is a national Catholic charity that supports prisoners, people with convictions, and their children and families, by providing caring and life-changing services at every stage of the criminal justice process: in court, in prison, on release, and in the community.
Don’t underestimate the long-term impact of the war in Ukraine, says Bishop
Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski, Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, talks about the devastating impact of the war but also the solidarity and welcome many people have shown throughout our lands to Ukrainians fleeing the war.
Bishop prays for the 27 migrants who perished in the English Channel a year ago
It’s a year since the tragic deaths of 27 migrants in the English Channel – the worst-ever migrant tragedy in that body of water. Bishop Paul McAleenan has offered his prayers for the victims and their families, stressing that we have a “collective responsibility” to uphold the human dignity of migrants and refugees.
03 December 2022
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
10 December 2022
Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
20 December 2022
International Human Solidarity Day
28 December 2022
Feast of the Holy Innocents
01 January 2023
World Day of Peace
08 February 2023
Feast day of St Josephine Bakhita, World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking.
2022 Caritas Social Action Network. All rights reserved.
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Tag Archives: leader
We walked to Elham on the recommendation of our daughter; we were not disappointed. Firstly, to find the King’s Arms open and ready to sell us good beer which we enjoyed in the square in the full Spring sunshine. And then there was the church, also open, ready to sell us good second-hand books, and ready to give us plenty to reflect upon.
These Easter Lilies were placed before a Madonna and child, but a very Paschal, Easter-minded Madonna and child. Two years ago we looked at a portrait of Mary and baby Jesus in a pieta-like pose, and I urge you to revisit that post now, to complement this one.
That old post considered two paintings from the studio of Rogier van de Weyden, of the mid-XV Century, the Madonna and a Pieta. In each Mary is tenderly holding her son, whose pose as a baby matches that of his lifeless corpse. This is not what our artist in Elham has in view. Jesus may be four years old here, a boy, not a baby, but still dependent on Mary and Joseph for everything.
The boy is very much alive, yet he is standing as if practising for his work on the Cross. He is lightly supported by his mother; at this age he can walk for himself, but that gentle uplift is reassuring. As for Mary, not for the last time she ponders these things in her heart, the heart pierced by the sword of sorrow.
Jesus is about to step forth from her lap. Any parent will know the excitement and trepidation of following a small child, where are they going, what dangers can we perceive that they do not? But letting them lead us is part of growth for the child and also for the parent who is offered the chance to see the world through fresh eyes.
Mary could not prevent the death of Jesus on the Cross but she was there to welcome him on the third day. Isaiah tells us that a little child shall lead them: may we follow him through all life’s trials to our resurrection in his Kingdom.
The Pope’s intention for October is: We pray that by virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church.
Having been dismissed summarily from a post of responsibility in my parish by a newly ordained curate, I realise that it is not always ‘by virtue of baptism’ that ‘the laity’ participate in the Church, but by the favour of the clergy. Something’s wrong when a priest abuses the power that rightly goes with the responsibility of leading a parish community. As Pope Francis says, the pastor should smell of his sheep.
Do you remember the Doors of Mercy that were set up during Pope Francis’s Year of Mercy? This one was in Zakopane, Poland. Through God’s mercy we can enter what we rather inadequately call ‘The House of God’ — if there is a way to avoid crippling steps, put there by history but not needed for today’s church, which seems to be called to be much more lay-led in the near future.
From The Life of Saint Teresa*
It must be carefully noted – and I say this because I know it by experience – that the soul which begins to walk resolutely in the way of mental prayer and can persuade itself to set little store by consolations and tenderness in devotion, and neither to be elated when the Lord gives them, nor disconsolate when he withholds them, has already travelled a great part of its journey. However often it may stumble, it need not fear a relapse, for its building has been begun on a firm foundation.
Yes, love for God does not consist in shedding tears, in enjoying those consolations and that tenderness which for the most part we desire and in which we find comfort, but in serving him with righteousness, fortitude and humility. The other seems to me to be receiving rather than giving anything.
As for poor women like myself, who are weak and lack fortitude, I think it fitting that we should be led by means of favours: this is the way that God is leading me now, so that I may be able to suffer certain trials which it has pleased his majesty to give me.
I have to admit to lacking fortitude at times, but Saint Teresa admits the same weakness, so I am in good company! But amid the circling gloom ‘God is leading me now.’
* In ‘The Complete Works of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Tr E. Allison Peters, London, Sheed & Ward, 1944, p68.
Oh Wisdom come and lead us.
Here is the link to Sister Johanna’s post about Jesus, God’s Wisdom. Dec 17 – O Sapientia
Yet another discovery when I was looking for something else!
The web led me to an article by Peter Hebblethwaite1 in which he touches on Saint John XXIII Roncalli and today’s feast of the Assumption. The Assumption is not to do with a high and remote Madonna, but a flesh and blood woman who lived on this earth and died, as we all must. It is about hope.
Roncalli’s meditation on the Assumption was deeply Christological. Mary is clearly with us. She is the first of disciples and a leader in faith, and so she can be of some use to us. Roncalli concludes his meditation:
The mystery of the Assumption brings home the thought of death,
of our death,
and it diffuses within us a mood of peaceful abandonment;
it familiarizes us with and reconciles us to the idea
that the Lord will be present in our death agony,
to gather up into his hands our immortal soul.
~ John XXIII wrote that when he had only another eighteen months to live.
1Peter Hebblethwaite, THE MARIOLOGY OF THREE POPES in THE WAY, 1985 pp 54-68, at https://www.theway.org.uk/Back/s051Hebblethwaite.pdf