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 email@example.com 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.
Romero House, 55 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7JB
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.
Please feel free to share this newsletter with your family and friends and tell them to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like to be on our email list.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Tag Archives: mental health
Caritas Newsletter, December 2022
Filed under Advent and Christmas, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', Mission, PLaces
7 November: A prayer when prayer is answered.
May [our] merciful God make tender my heart, and make me as thankful, as in my distress I was earnest, in my prayers.
From The Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb, 1796-1820.
On 7 April 1797 Charles Lamb wrote to his friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, rejoicing that his sister Mary’s mental illness was much improved, so that her carers could ‘get her out into the world again’. He called her his ‘ever-present and never alienable friend’ and looked after her all his life.
What ‘not common blessing of Providence’ should I be thankful for today?
Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si'
11 October, John XXIII: I live and suffer willingly.
In 1927 then-Bishop Angelo Roncalli was Pope Pius XI’s representative in the predominantly Orthodox kingdom of Bulgaria. As there were very few Catholics in the country, it was largely his responsibility to organise and unite the Church, scattered as it was in small groups in far-flung districts, travelling often on poor roads, beset with bandits. Roncalli was often lonely and in danger; he was regarded with suspicion when he first arrived. He wrote to a priest friend:
It is not that the reasons for my troubled mind last year have ceased to exist; no, they are all still there, almost as powerful as before. But I found a reason for life and a reason for suffering; and so I live and suffer willingly…
From the outset of my episcopacy I have recited one of the prayers of the Exercises of Saint Ignatius, and I still say it. Well, one morning when I was suffering more than usual, I became aware that my state indicated precisely that my prayer had been granted.
Receive, O Lord, my whole liberty, receive my memory, my intelligence, and all my will. All that I have and possess was given to me by you, I give it back to you entirely. Do with it as you will. Give me only thy love with thy grace and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.
From John XXIII by Leone Algisi, Catholic Book Club 1966, p77.
Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces
14 February. Going Viral LXIX: Saint Valentine’s.
Five years ago we shared the following prayer that the English and Welsh bishops had published for Valentine's Day. It's worth transmitting again. We can pray it for other people if we are happily espoused ourselves. Prayer for those seeking a spouse Loving Father, You know that the deepest desire of my heart is to meet someone that I can share my life with. I trust in your loving plan for me and ask that I might meet soon the person that you have prepared for me. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, open my heart and mind so that I recognise my soulmate. Remove any obstacles that may be in the way of this happy encounter, so that I might find a new sense of wholeness, joy and peace. Give me the grace too, to know and accept, if you have another plan for my life. I surrender my past, present and future into the tender heart of your Son, Jesus, confident that my prayer will be heard and answered. AMEN.
The Valentine card at the head of the post was sent a century earlier, from a young man in Flanders’ fields to his ‘sweeetie’ in Manchester. They never married because he was killed in action; she went on to find happiness with another man, unlike two ladies I got to know in 1978. Miss M had been unhinged by her experience of loss, or so we were told; Miss P was a good friend to many nieces and nephews and added me to the list, making a beautiful quilt for our first baby’s pram; it’s now a family heirloom.
On this day for lovers, I cannot help thinking of those couples, married or hoping to marry, who are separated by the effects of covid on travel and meeting up. We all have to accept another plan for this period of our lives. And we can hold in our hearts all those who have died, and those who mourn them.
Let us surrender past, present and future into the tender heart of Jesus, confident that our prayer will be heard and answered.
Filed under corona virus, Daily Reflections, Mission, Spring
17 October: Night Wanderers
WH Davies was a Welsh poet who knew the hostels and streets of London, and the night wanderers who could not go indoors through the coldest winters. They are back on the streets and in the closed shop doorways of Canterbury as I write. Will.
They hear the bell of midnight toll, And shiver in their flesh and soul; They lie on hard, cold wood or stone, Iron, and ache in every bone; They hate the night: they see no eyes Of loved ones in the starlit skies. They see the cold, dark water near; They dare not take long looks for fear They'll fall like those poor birds that see A snake's eyes staring at their tree. Some of them laugh, half-mad; and some All through the chilly night are dumb; Like poor, weak infants some converse, And cough like giants, deep and hoarse." W. H. Davies
Filed under Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces, poetry
April 19, Emmaus VII: helping those on the road.
A Reflection on the “Walk to Emmaus” from Luke’s Gospel by David Bex and Vincent Dunkling of L’Arche Kent.
How many of us have been on that road to Emmaus? A journey that is full of emotions that stop us from being able to recognise where we are in our lives. A journey that throws obstacles in the way of asking for help? A journey that we feel has no end.
Mental health provision in this country is so poor that there are thousands who are on this road to Emmaus and are not getting the help they need.
How can you help those on the road?
Filed under Daily Reflections, Easter, L'Arche
3 February, Brownings XVII: a sort of fungus of the brain.
“I had a doctor once who thought he had done everything because he had carried the inkstand out of the room—’Now,’ he said, ‘you will have such a pulse to-morrow.’ He gravely thought poetry a sort of disease—a sort of fungus of the brain—and held as a serious opinion, that nobody could be properly well who exercised it as an art—which was true (he maintained) even of men—he had studied the physiology of poets, ‘quotha’—but that for women, it was a mortal malady and incompatible with any common show of health under any circumstances.And then came the damnatory clause in his experience … that he had never known ‘a system’ approaching mine in ‘excitability’ … except Miss Garrow’s … a young lady who wrote verses for Lady Blessington’s annuals … and who was the only other female rhymer he had had the misfortune of attending. And she was to die in two years, though she was dancing quadrilles then (and has lived to do the same by the polka), and I, of course, much sooner, if I did not ponder these things, and amend my ways, and take to reading ‘a course of history’!!”
(from “The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett, Vol. 1 (of 2) 1845-1846” by Robert Browning)
Filed under Daily Reflections, poetry
May 11: The Best Medicine? ask the Irish Chaplaincy.
When coming away from my regular visit to one of our Irish Chaplaincy Seniors I was reflecting on how uplifted I felt and how it had to do, in part, by how much we had laughed during the visit. This particular lady is only in her 70s but has fairly advanced dementia, and her sister moved over from Ireland to stay in the one-bedroom flat as a live-in carer. It’s a challenging situation but we always regale one another with funny stories, and we hoot with laughter.
I’ve been enjoying a book by James Martin, the American Jesuit, called ‘Between Heaven and Mirth’ with the sub-title ‘Why joy, humour and laughter are at the heart of the spiritual life’. He speaks of the importance of humour, especially in religious settings, which can easily become terribly serious and joyless. I imagine, sadly, that there are many people who might consider laughter to be incompatible with church or religion. And I was interested to see in a recent survey in the Church of England that people didn’t want their priests to be cracking lots of jokes in their sermons! It’s true that humour doesn’t really come across in the gospels. I fear this is a case of jokes getting lost in translation (besides the notion that religion is a ‘serious business’) because I like to think that the stories of Jesus were filled with humour and hilarity, and that he liked nothing better than to have a good laugh with some of the dodgy characters he hung out with.
I still remember the words of my dear friend Tony (and the jokes he told) in his best man speech at my wedding. He reminded us that the words ‘humour’, ‘humility’ and ‘human’ all come from the Latin word ‘humus’ which means earth and ground, so that when we laugh we are connected in a particular way with the ground we walk upon and with those we walk with. It could be said indeed that a sure sign of a growing connection and intimacy with another person is the ability to laugh together. Physiologically, as well, it’s healthy for us to laugh. A good, hearty laugh can relieve physical tension and stress and leave the muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes. It boosts the immune system, decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, therefore improving resistance to disease. It also reduces blood pressure and releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Laughter is almost as good for the body as going to the gym! And it doesn’t cost a penny in membership! I remember at one time somebody in the NHS having the idea to send comedians into hospitals to help patients to laugh but sadly it doesn’t seem to have caught on.
And talking of funny people, I was tickled to hear what happened when John Cleese met the Dalai Lama. They didn’t say a word to one another but simply broke into spontaneous and prolonged laughter! James Martin tells us in his book that the Trappist monk and prolific spiritual writer Thomas Merton could be identified by visitors to his monastery in Kentucky (at a time, in the 1960s, when there were 200 monks there) because he was the one who was always laughing. And one of the many nice stories in the book concerns Mother Theresa from the time when John Paul II was pope and creating loads of new saints. A young sister asked what she would have to do in her life to achieve sainthood. Mother Theresa replied “die now; this pope’s canonising everyone”!
This season of Lent is perhaps not readily associated with fun and frivolity. Yet, in the scripture readings from Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent we have Jesus warning us (Matthew 6) not to look miserable when we fast; and we are reminded of the words from Isaiah 58 of the kind of fast that is pleasing to God:
“Let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke;
Share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor”
And I would add, try and have a bit of a laugh with people as well. It’s one of the things that most profoundly binds us together in our common humanity.
Filed under Daily Reflections
19 November. Did you know? What do you think?
Filed under Interruptions