Tag Archives: Lent

27 April: A Straggling scrap of paper.

The Christmas lights are no mistake because on 26th December 1815, Charles Lamb was sitting by the fire, writing to his friend the explorer Thomas Manning who is in China. Since the Universal Postal Union had not yet been organised, indeed the Penny Post was still 25 years in the future, Lamb feels unsure about the fate of his letter …

I don’t know why I have forborne writing so long. But it is such a forlorn hope to send a scrap of paper straggling over wide oceans. And yet I know when you come home, I shall have you sitting before me at our fireside just as if you had never been away. In such an instant does the return of a person dissipate all the weight of imaginary perplexity from distance of time and space! I’ll promise you good oysters.

Lamb was a good letter writer, although he had periods of silence with correspondents including Coleridge and Wordsworth. I can only lay claim to the fits of silence when people might feel neglected by me! I set out to be a better letter writer this last Lent; not altogether successfully. But more letters did get written! Let’s see if I can’t carry on with writing more, after all I don’t have to worry about scraps of paper straggling over wide oceans. Emails arrive in Africa almost before I have typed them!

Who’s hoping for a letter from you?

from The Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb, 1796-1820, edited by E. V. Lucas.


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22 March, Lenten Pilgrimage XVI: lead us to the fullness of life

Once again we gladly share some wise reflections from Canon Anthony Charlton, parish priest of Saint Thomas, Canterbury. Thank you Father Anthony! Something to think about on our Lenten Pilgrimage.

At the end of his teaching on the beatitudes, Raniero Cantalamessa OFM CAP says, “The best way to take the Gospel beatitudes seriously is to use them as a mirror for an examination of conscience that is truly ‘evangelical’”.

Here are some questions that can help;

Is my deepest desire for God or for passing things that only bring temporary comfort?
Do I depend on good feelings, or do I accept that doing God’s will sometimes involves the acceptance of enormous pain?
Am I seduced by power, or am I prepared to allow God’s power to reign in me?
Do I strive for holiness, or am I, at times, satisfied with mediocrity and lukewarmness?
When a brother, a sister, or a co-worker demonstrates a fault, do I react with judgement or mercy?
Are my intentions pure? Do I say yes and no as Jesus did? The clearest opposite of purity of heart is hypocrisy. Whom do I seek to please by my actions: God or other people?
Am I addicted to the approval of others?
Am I a peacemaker? Do I bring peace to different sides? How do I behave when there are conflicts of opinion or conflicts of interest?
Is the peace of God in my heart, and if not, why not?
Am I ready to suffer in silence for the gospel? How do I react when facing a wrong or an injury I received?

When we read or listen to the Beatitudes, we have a portrait of Jesus himself. He gives us these beatitudes as a way of true happiness that will lead us to the fullness of life.

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16 March: Lenten Pilgrimage XII, Never lose sight of our leader.

The Good Shepherd, the one who leads us: Saint Mildred’s, Canterbury.

The following paragraphs are from a pastoral letter by Bishop Rose of Dover in response to statements on diverse sexuality and marriage, which generated much ‘noise’, within and outside the Church of England. We are not seeking to add to the volume of noise nor to prolong it, but we did want to share with you Bishop Rose’s concluding reflections which apply to each one of us as we follow the Good Shepherd on our Lenten Pilgrimage.

We have a rich diversity of culture, knowledge and experience. At the best of times, our diversity is one of our great strengths, enabling us to more fully to reflect the beauty and complexity of our world and our Creator. However challenging we may find life together, it is unChristlike for us to use our diversity as an excuse for separation and withdrawal from one another. Our Lord’s command is to love and serve one another. As your Bishop, I will always seek to follow that command and I ask the same of you. 

We are all children of God, who created each of us in his image, and we are the followers of Jesus Christ, who reaches out and draws all people to himself. In him our hope is found. In him, our messy offerings may become a blessing to one another and to our world. Let us never lose sight of the one who leads us. Let us never fail to sing with joy for what he has done for us. Let us never fail to share the good news that gladdens our heart, even though the challenges of this world surround us. Let’s do this all with kindness and care, for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

Yours in the service of Christ,

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15 March: Lenten Pilgrimage XI, Hiking into Silence

Silence can be a moment of revelation, writes Eddie Gilmore of the Irish chaplaincy. Here’s a paragraph from his reflection, where a hike across Wales opened that possibility to him. As ever, the whole article is worth reflecting upon, but here’s that taster.

When I was fourteen I was on a school trip to North Wales and we were hiking one day across the high and remote moorland when the guide asked us to stop dead still and to listen. Having grown up in a city, and in a house where my sister liked to have Radio 1 playing all the time, and where the TV was usually on non-stop, it was probably the first time I had heard that sound of silence. And what an amazing sound it was. It lasted just a few seconds before some of the others started giggling but it was a little moment of revelation for me.

What revelation could we receive if we stopped the noise for a few minutes? That said, I used to find silence following a noisy lawnmower around some extensive grounds, part of my mind concentrating on the machine and the grass, the rest, eventually turning to silence.There are many entries to the bliss of solitude.

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March 8: Lenten Pilgrimage V, Little acts of kindness.

Eddie Gilmore of the Irish Chaplaincy has been reflecting on people with depression and how to help them get free of the blues, starting from research at Ohio State University that focused on 122 adults with moderate or severe depression. The results were published in The journal of Positive Psychology in January.

We know in our work at the Irish Chaplaincy that that little act of kindness can be transformative; and in the case of people in prison, who might be in particular despair, an act of kindness can be life-saving.

What this new study concludes is that the person giving the act of kindness is also helped. The participants were split into three groups. One group was required to carry out kind acts for others twice a week for ten weeks; a second group participated in planned social activities; and the third group were subject to a cognitive behaviour technique known as cognitive reappraisal. This involves the person being helped to recognise when their thoughts follow negative patterns and to make the thoughts more positive. As for the kind acts, they included things like baking biscuits for friends, offering lifts to people and writing notes of encouragement for housemates.

For those in the ‘kind acts’ group there was a greater improvement in depressive symptoms than for those in the other two groups. Dr David Gregg who led the study concludes, “Something as simple as helping other people can go above and beyond other treatments in helping people deal with depression and anxiety.” His colleague, Dr Jennifer Cheavers added, “We often think that people with depression have enough to deal with, so we don’t want to burden them by asking them to help others. But these results run counter to that. Doing nice things for people and focussing on the needs of others may actually help people with depression and anxiety feel better about themselves.”

After all, Jesus did not send individuals to preach the Good News but pairs, and he told them to accept the gifts they were offered. (Luke 10) So let’s not wait till we are depressed, or they are depressed, but get on our feet and walk a little way alongside our friends and family members, or invite them to tea; to cheer them up, and get out of our own head for a while.

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5 March, Lenten Pilgrimage II: down to the sea in ships.

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.
Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

Psalm 107:23-31.

This Lent we will be sharing reflections on the rather loose theme of ‘Pilgrimage’.

The description of the merchants on a storm-tossed ship will resonate with anyone caught in a Channel gale, held outside the walls of Dover Harbour until our ferry could safely enter. The ships in biblical times were smaller than those monsters, smaller even than this Cal-Mac ferry to the Scottish Islands, seen here in her ‘desired haven’, her home port of Mallaig. These ferries venture out in all weathers, as a friend and I found many years ago. We were crossing from Gourock to Dunoon; the waves were crashing around the quay, but there was a small army of workers on their way to the Navy depot on Loch Long. Their calm meant we were not at our wits’ end for long.

May we endure all the storms that await us this Lent. By our air of calmness may we encourage our fellow pilgrims to be calm too. And may we cry unto the Lord in our distress, and always praise him for his goodness. AMEN.

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23 February: The Open Handed Missionary, I

Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg (4973×6001)

Give it six weeks? Let us spend our first meetings this Lent reflecting the vocation of every Christian to be a missionary, drawing on Pope Francis’s challenge in Evangelii Gaudium but also Johannes Baptist Metz’s Poverty of Spirit, and Richard Bawoobr’s reflections on life as a Missionary. He was the Superior General of the Missionaries of Africa, the White Fathers, later appointed Bishop of Wa in Ghana, and installed as a Cardinal shortly before his death in 2022. So no ground-breakingly original thoughts from Will Turnstone, though the stories that link them are true and you won’t have heard them all.

Let’s start with a true story: I’m sitting on a city centre bus, when on steps the wife from Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ painting – only noticeably less full of the joys of life. She must have seen herself as a missionary, since she distributed a dozen tracts, leaving them on empty seats, thrusting one into my hand. Without a smile. At the next stop she climbed down to await another bus, her senior pass ready to hand.

We all notice Pope Francis’s smile. And he says in Evangelii Gaudium (10): ‘An evangeliser must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!’ Where is the joy of the Gospel that the Calvinist on the bus seemed to lack, the Christian Vitamin we need?

Here’s another story, one to bring the taste of a smile to your lips: picture me cycling home when a black cat leapt out to pat at a fly. Braking for him slowed my progress enough to observe a little girl about to run in front of me. I heard her mother’s warning; I’m sure she did not!

A tolerant mother she was, for her daughter was dressed in new clothes – a white, flowery dress, white tights and new party shoes. She must have been walking along the top of the bank, despite brambles and nettles waiting to catch her legs, for she ran from her mother, back to the bank, where she snatched up a rag doll, all gingham and bright red plaits, and raced across my path again.

‘Worth risking your life for,’ smiled her mother. The doll was real to the little girl; and who could doubt that her mother would risk her own life for her dear one? A question to ponder until tomorrow.

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More News of Continental Synodal Assemblies

General Secretariat of the Synod
https://www.synod.va – media@synod.va

#SynodBangkok2023 Towards the Continental Synodal Assembly in Asia

New information about the Continental Synod Assembly for Asia, which opens this week (23-26) in Bangkok, Thailand, are available at bangkok.synod2023.org.

#Synod Celam 2023 The second of four sub-regional assemblies in preparation for the Continental Synodal Assembly at the end of March is underway in Santo Domingo. Until next 24 February, 50 delegates representing the Church in the Caribbean region will discuss the issues set out in the working document for the Continental stage.

 #SynodAddis Ababa 2023 Towards the Addis Ababa Assembly
Preparations are in full swing for the Continental Synodal Assembly for Africa. Every day, Oscar Elizalde, member of the Communication Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod, tells us about the work together with his ADN CELAM team.You can follow the updates at addisababa.synod2023.org
For now, we invite you to listen to the testimonies of Philomena Mwaura, lecturer at Kenyatta University, and that of Moses Ojok, Member of the IYAB (International Youth Advisory Body) of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. Philomena tells us how this synod on synodality was received in her parish community. For his part, Moses tells us how the concept of synodality is understood in the African youth context.

For a synodal Lent

On 17 February, Pope Francis’ Message for Lent 2023 “Lenten penance, a synodal journey” was published. On the eve of the celebration of ashes with which we begin the Lenten journey, we invite you to read and meditate on this important message of Pope Francis’ synodal magisterium.
To the message

We take this opportunity to share with you two resources for this Lenten season. One is a Way of the Cross prepared by Sr. Inigo and which comes to us from India.  The second is a series of reflections for Lent in connection with the synodal path prepared by St Paul’s Parish in Los Angeles.

Through the portal https://synod2023.org you can access the sites of the individual continental meetings.Copyright  2023 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved.
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22 February, Ash Wednesday: give it six weeks!

The exercise class were discussing different approaches to pain control, the teacher advocating the gentle tai chi regime for various reasons, including putting the patient actively in the driving seat, instead of being a passive recipient of treatment.

He explained: ‘I didn’t want to just be doing things to people, giving them some relief from pain, only for them to come back again and again, having done something silly and reawakened their problem. Again and again the same silliness, the same problem.’

He calls patients to take personal responsibility for attending classes and practising the exercises when alone in one’s room or standing at the station, sitting at table or a work desk. Other people would not observe many of the exercises being performed as they are small in scope, even invisible under clothing, but over time they bring real change.

Some new patients were discouraged when they were not asked to do anything dramatic, when the movements were small, the immediate effects imperceptible. ‘Have patience, give it six weeks at least’, he advises patients. Six weeks is forty-two days, just two more than forty days, the time we are offered every year to bring about real change in our hearts, the time taken by Jesus to prepare for his ministry. And he declined the chance of dramatic gestures.

What little change can I work on for the next six weeks?

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22 February: Lenten Pilgrimage I.

Sign up now to CAFOD's Big Lent Walk
I don’t see myself walking 200km this Lent, 80 would be an achievement this year with health difficulties. Maybe another year. Follow the link below if you are interested. We at the Mirror approve of walking and of pilgrimages!
CAFOD’s Big Lent Walk!
New Year, new challenge!

This Lent get involved with CAFOD’s massive walking challenge, the Big Lent Walk. Walk, run, roll, or stroll 200km in 40 days to help people fight poverty. Sign up now

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