Tag Archives: Mission

6 May: Please join the Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians – 9th May 2021

prayer

Please remember in your prayers this Sunday our sisters and brothers in the Eastern Churches. Many of them face hardship and persecution, as they did in the earliest days of Christianity, which unfolded in the Middle East. This post from FACE tells us about the day of prayer and is followed by a letter from Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald, former Papal Ambassador or Nuncio to Egypt.

Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians – 9th May 2021

What is the Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians?

The Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians is an annual day of prayer which enables Eastern and Western Christians to come together in communion through prayer.  The event unites Latin rite dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe with dioceses of the Eastern Catholic Churches in union with the Bishop of Rome.

When is the Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians?

The Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians will take place on the Sixth Sunday of Easter, 9th May 2021, with the participation of Christians from all over Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and India.

Why is the Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians on the Sixth Sunday of Easter?

Sunday after Sunday, during the Easter celebrations, Eastern and Western Christians hear the Acts of the Apostles which witness to the first preaching of the Gospel. These readings remind us of the origin of the Eastern Churches and the history of the first Eastern Christians, who brought the Gospel to us. Nowadays, many of these Eastern Christians are oppressed and persecuted, and struggle to survive and to pass on our faith to their children, in their own lands where Christianity was born and first spread.

A day of communion through prayer.

On the Sixth Sunday of Easter, we invite Western Christians to recite the following bidding prayer for Eastern Christians:

Let us pray for peace in the world, especially in the Middle East. May the Christians in these lands be strengthened in their faith so that they may continue courageously to give witness to Jesus Christ.  

How to celebrate this day?

  • We ask you to say the prayer as part of the International Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians
  • We ask you to share this intention and the prayer with your family and friends
  • We suggest that parishes include the intention of Eastern Christians in the Prayers of the Faithful during Mass on the Sixth Sunday of Easter.

Who are the Eastern Christians?

The Eastern Christians in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa are direct descendants of the Early Christians and trace their roots back to apostolic times. There are more than 26 million Eastern Christians living in the Middle East and surrounding regions.  For Western Christians, they provide a direct link to the Apostolic Church, leading us to the roots of Christianity and showing us, through their tradition and witness, a living faith in Christ. 

How can you help Eastern Christians?

  • Pray for Eastern Christians. You can use our prayer for Eastern Christians (above) or join our prayer group to receive a monthly prayer, a reflection and information on an Eastern saint. Please do sign up to our prayer group:  https://facecharity.org/prayergroup/
  • Engage with Eastern Catholic Churches. There are several Eastern Churches in the United Kingdom. You are welcome to participate in their liturgies and share your common origins. You will receive a warm welcome.
  • Support Eastern Christians through our projects in education, healthcare, pastoral support and inter-religious dialogue, which are organised under the patronage of the bishops and religious communities of the Eastern Catholic Churches. You may support these projects here: https://facecharity.org/give/
Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald M.Afr.

Letter from Cardinal Fitzgerald

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Day of Prayer for Eastern Christians is fast approaching. It will take place on the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Sunday, 9th May 2021), with the participation of Christians from all over Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and India.

This Day of Prayer – promoted in the UK by Fellowship and Aid to the Christians of the East (FACE) in partnership with the Congregation for Oriental Churches – will offer Eastern and Western Christians an opportunity to be united in prayer during the time of Easter.

It will offer us in the West an opportunity to think of the Eastern Churches and to give thanks to God for all that we owe them: the first preaching of the Gospel, the origins of the monastic tradition, the early Church Fathers, and above all the witness of the Eastern Christians down the centuries, which has been, and still is, an inspiration to our faith.  This Day could also be an occasion to give thanks for the recent pilgrimage of Pope Francis to Iraq and to draw inspiration from its message of solidarity, fraternity and hope.

The Eastern Christians were the first evangelisers without whom Christianity would never have spread to the UK. Today, the Eastern Christians, many of whom are suffering from the effects of war and from discrimination, now face the added crisis of the Covid epidemic, with its threat to their livelihood, health and well-being.  This is a crisis within an already existing crisis!  They deserve our prayerful support.

In commending this Day of Prayer to you, may I suggest that you bring it to the attention of your family and friends, perhaps sharing with them the following prayer:

Heavenly Father, we pray today for peace in the world, especially in the Middle East. By your heavenly grace, strengthen the faith and hope of Eastern Christians. May they be blessed with peace and prosperity in their countries.  May we be inspired by their devotion and witness to the Gospel, by their love and compassion for all in their communities, and by their courage, their endurance and self-sacrifice. Through their charity, tolerance and friendship, bring peace and reconciliation to those troubled lands, where Christianity was born and first spread. This we ask of you through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

I trust that this Day of Prayer, despite the restrictions caused by the current pandemic, will bring comfort and assurance to Eastern Christians. In our solidarity and communion, may we all be renewed by the hope we place in the Risen Christ.

With the assurance of my prayers and with my warmest wishes for a joyful Eastertide,

Yours in Christ

Michael Cardinal Fitzgerald M.Afr.

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8 April: The Easter Garden

Franciscan Church, Venice

The church had imposing monuments, emphasising the worldly wealth that was Venice’s, but what struck me was this carving of Christ on Easter Morning, watched over by a Guardian Angel, a serenely happy angel indeed. But Jesus maybe does need an eye kept on him, He looks as though he is not at all used to his risen body, see how he’s feeling the wound in his side; it’s bleeding as though he were alive.

The English Easter gardens, from a village in Northumberland, Canterbury Cathedral, and Saint Mildred’s Church nearby, are unpopulated so far as we can see, but just as with Doctor Johnson the other day, we can feel God’s presence.

When I helped at Children’s Masses, some of them enacted Mary, John and Peter going to the tomb, and finding no-one. We then unrolled a poster saying ‘Jesus is nowhere’, because they did not find him. The priest had to take a pair of scissors to it, so that it read, ‘Jesus is now here’. Our daily challenge for mission is to live as though that’s true. Which it is!

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29 March: Mission Today 2021

Here’s a link to Mission Today for Spring 2021.

You can keep up-to-date with stories from missionaries on the ground, and find practical ways to get involved in mission in your own community.

The magazine includes:

  • Articles by religious and lay people working as missionaries abroad
  • A roundup of Missio and Mill Hill Missionary activity in England and Wales
  • First-person accounts of how Gospel values are changing overseas communities
  • Prayer and reflection on the Christian call to share faith and serve people living in poverty

There are some excellent articles – well worth reading.

Will.

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30 November: St Andrew, Dr Johnson and the Scottish mission

Doctor Johnson, on his 18th Century tour of Scotland, got into a discussion about Catholics. There were thousands of Catholics in the Highlands and Islands, served by missionary priests largely trained overseas; a seminary in the Highlands was illegal and repeatedly destroyed. Johnson was misinformed about where the Catholics were, but it would not be long before many were driven out during the Clearances, though Johnson would not have seen that coming.

Roads were poor or non-existent; to cross this loch would have meant hiring a rowing boat or sailing vessel, there was no telephoning ahead to warn people a priest was coming, and he was a more or less tolerated outlaw. He was, however, a worthy son of Saint Andrew, patron of Scotland.


“There is in Scotland, as among ourselves, a restless suspicion of popish machinations, and a clamour of numerous converts to the Romish religion.  The report is, I believe, in both parts of the Island equally false.  The Romish religion is professed only in Egg and Canna, two small islands, into which the Reformation never made its way.  If any missionaries are busy in the Highlands, their zeal entitles them to respect, even from those who cannot think favourably of their doctrine.” (from “Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland” by Samuel Johnson)

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18 October, Review. Tomáš Halík: From the Underground Church to Freedom.

Tomáš Halík: From the Underground Church to Freedom, University of Notre Dame Press,Notre Dame, Indiana, 2019. Available through Waterstone’s or online.

Tomáš Halík is a Czech Catholic priest who has lived under repressive Communism, even coming to the Faith in an officially atheist country, a process he unfolds for the reader in one of the chapters of this autobiography. An interest in history, including the career of the ‘heretic’ Jan Huss; reading about psychoanalysis as a schoolboy, and a growing awareness of politics and that life under an oppressive regime was not the inevitable fate of his country; all these had him asking questions, and finding the ready-made answers of the atheist regime lacking.

But he had ‘absolutely no experience of the living church.’ How true is that of many of our neighbours? It was during a solitary pilgrimage he made one holiday that he assented to belief in God; from there to attending a church with good music, gradually moving closer to the altar, week by week; thence to a church frequented by students where the pastor’s homilies were challenging.

The journey to the priesthood had begun but had to continue underground, and his ordination was held behind closed doors in Erfurt, East Germany.

That sets the scene for a ministry conducted in secret but also in plain view as a psychotherapist and university teacher; often feeling the eye of the secret police upon him. Many of the generation of priests before him had been imprisoned; there were almost parallel churches; some priests ministering as best they might at the churches that were permitted to remain open, others, like Fr Halík, in closely guarded secrecy, until the regime collapsed like those in neighbouring countries.

It was time to unite the Catholic Church. The official church had been deprived of international links and scholarship; the priests were tired and ‘the onset of freedom caught them very much unawares.’ Thirty years have not healed all the wounds inflicted before 1990.

Openness to the universal Church, the re-establishment of church structures, the initial and ongoing formation of pastors and people, freedom from fear: these things take time, and hard work, and grace. At 70, Fr Halík feels he may not have much more time, but he has been the means of grace. This book will inspire the reader to believe in the action of the Holy Spirit. And perhaps nudge us to ask what we can share with those around us with ‘absolutely no experience of the living church.’

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15 October: Christ has no body but yours.

Thank you to Revd Jo Richards for reminding us of this prayer of St Teresa of Avila, whose feast is today.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours, 
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Image from Wikipedia, public domain, believed to be a copy from a live portrait.

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14 October, Going Viral XLVII: shared leadership continues

St Dunstan’s Church with the brick built Roper chapel where Thomas More’s head is buried

Another glimpse of Anglican parish life in pandemic times.

Good morning to you all on this autumnal morning.

Would you be interested in joining the PCC? As I mentioned last week, we have our APCM’s  in which amongst other things we elect members to the PCC. Both of our PCC’s have vacancies.

We are one Benefice, but two Parishes: Parish of St Peter and St Mildred, and Parish of St Dunstan with Holy Cross. Each Parish has a Parochial Church Council (PCC). The role of the Parochial Church Council is to provide an official, partly-elected team that shares leadership responsibility for the Parish with its Incumbent. It is the shared responsibility of the incumbent and PCC to consult on all matters of general concern and importance to the Parish. Together, they co-operate to promote and provide leadership of the whole mission of God in this place:

  • In prayer – both personal and corporate. 
  • in pastoral ways – looking after individuals. 
  • sharing the Good News of Christ 
  • in social concern – helping all in need, especially disadvantaged and persecuted members of society. 
  • ecumenically – encouraging fruitful relationships with other Christian denominations.

This requires mutual support, understanding, and an open discussion of ideas and plans, leading to shared responsibility and  decision making.

Membership: The PCC is composed by law of:The incumbent, churchwardens, any persons on the electoral roll who is a member of the deanery synod, diocesan synod, or general synod. in addition there are elected members and co-opted members. Elected means chosen at the APCM, co-opted are chosen in the course of the year, normally if someone leaves. The number of elected members is dictated by the size of the electoral roll. In both of our cases we are permitted 9 elected members.It has previously been decided that PCC members in both Parishes are elected for a year. If they wish to stand again then they are elected at the APCM.
PCC meetings are held quarterly, and members are also encouraged to be actively involved in one of our subcommittees, which all operate under the umbrella of the PCC.
A person who is elected must:

  • Have been on the electoral roll for six months
  • Be over 16
  • Consent to being appointed
  • Have taken communion at least three times in the previous year

Please do give this prayerful consideration, and for those who are current members, if you wish to stand again for a further year please do let Elizabeth Turner know asap, unless you have already done so.
Thank you to all those who are currently on our PCC’s and for all the work that you do – much appreciated by us all.
God Bless
Jo

Rev Jo Richards

Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury

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2 October, Praying with Pope Francis: The Laity’s Mission

door.zakopane (514x640)
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.

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1 October, Season of Creation III: Forty Years On.

Logo of the International Year of Disabled Persons 1981

1981; not all readers will remember it, but we called it IYDP, the United Nations’ Year of Disabled Persons. It came to mind the other day when we saw workers making dropped kerbs to allow wheelchair users – and of course pram pushers – to cross the road more easily. We had campaigned for these forty years ago. That’s progress!

It’s surely part of our work as co-creators of God’s world to ensure that every human being is able to be fully part of the family of humanity, the family of God. So this post is appropriate in this season.

The UN Enable web page says that the theme of IYDP was “full participation and equality”, defined as the right of persons with disabilities to take part fully in the life and development of their societies, enjoy living conditions equal to those of other citizens, and have an equal share in improved conditions resulting from socio-economic development.

Christian churches should be showing the way forward, and indeed there has been progress. Buildings with steps were once the norm, if only to keep the mud at bay, but even sensitive old places like Canterbury Cathedral have been able to address the access problems successfully.

BUT ARE WE OPEN ENOUGH? I was pleased to see recently the Parish Guide to Disability published by the Catholic Disability Fellowship who advise the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales. They adapted a pamphlet of the Office of Ministry with People with Disabilities, Diocese of
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania USA, updating it for British use.

While I have to say that most of what the Guide says we were saying back in the 1980s, it is all worth repeating. And I hope never to hear again of priests refusing sacraments or catechesis to persons with disabilities. What is encouraging is the emphasis on the mission of every Christian to witness to faith: the first page cites Pope Francis:

The people of God: “A living community, one that supports, accompanies,
integrates and enriches. Never separated, but united, where everyone
learns to be a sign and blessing of God for others.”

Pope Francis (Bulgaria – May 6, 2019)

The Guide will help this to happen; the checklist at the end is a valuable tool that summarises the aims and policies described, and enables communities to discern what’s going well, where improvements are possible, and where they need help to grow. Every parish could do better; this Guide will help – if it is read and shared. Find it here.

Maurice Billingsley, sometime Chair, 81 Group for Disabled People in the Church.

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30 September: Season of Creation II, Jubilee

The Columban Missionaries know of what they speak with regard to God’s Creation. This post is a gateway to some of their experience and wisdom.

Episode Two of the Columban Biodiversity Podcast series ‘Jubilee for the Earth,’ is on the theme, ‘A New Kind of Economy’.

“We need to grow in the conviction” Pope Francis says, “that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development” (Laudato Si’ #191).

Two members of the Columban international team for justice, peace, and ecology – lay missionary John Din in the Philippines and Columban co-worker Becca Eastwood in the United States – discuss the urgent need to re-imagine how our economy operates and to redefine what human flourishing looks like.

You can watch the video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWVVV5QZERk&feature=youtu.be. Or listen to the audio https://soundcloud.com/columbans/a-new-kind-of-economy .

The podcasts have been produced to celebrate the 2020 Season of Creation.

You can RSVP to get notified of when the podcast launches by clicking: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSebUNHhtXi0cDLOHcdg9xW2g60JFv5dep4h-cgMpWwpXKGcmQ/viewform

Trailer at: https://columbancenter.org/trailer-jubilee-earth

See the first podcast ‘The Spirituality of Biodiversity’ at: https://youtu.be/lT7odPSuUHM

Please consider sharing Jubilee for the Earth with your friends and family. Sign up to get notified when episodes are published! https://bit.ly/31FRCeK

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