Tag Archives: prayer

2 June: Praying with Pope Francis, For the abolition of torture.

We pray that the international community may commit 
in a concrete way 
to ensuring the abolition of torture 
and guarantee support to victims and their families.

People who have been tortured have to choose how to live when the active part of their ordeal is over. When we were new parents I used to take our baby to the antique and secondhand bookshop of Mr S for morning-long chats about this and that. The Other, rarely mentioned, was the tattooed number on his wrist.

John S had emigrated to Israel but eventually washed up at a rundown English seaside town, selling a few books, welcoming odd bods like me to sit around the fire, and getting by. Israel, for him, had become too bullying towards the Palestinian people living on the same patch of land.

Ensuring the abolition of torture is a big ask. It is underhand, a deed of darkness. It will need long-term, concerted action to come near this goal. Most of all it needs the grace of the Spirit to inspire governments to cease torture done in their name; to press governments to intervene with other nations where torture is practised; to encourage journalists and NGOs to tell the world about torture.

Let us pray that we may be men and women of peace, like John S: Come Holy Spirit, heal our wounds, our strength renew, on our dryness pour thy dew.


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30 May: A Letter to our 2023 Confirmation Candidates

A Letter to our 2023 Confirmation Candidates

My dear Confirmandi,
Thank you for coming forward to make this preparation to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. You are doing the right thing. I believe so much in you.
Please God, on Pentecost Sunday, 28 May 2023 at the 11am Mass, you will be sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The practice of virtue, enabled by the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, will bring you to the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. During the Confirmation, the Bishop (or in our case, the Archbishop’s Vicar for the Southeast Area of our Archdiocese) will say this prayer: 

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

This prayer begins the new life in Christ which you are invited to lead.

There is the impression that after Confirmation a number of young Catholics, at least here in this country, make an exodus from the Church in large numbers. Simply put: they stop attending Mass, no longer participating in the life of the Church or identifying themselves as Catholics. Some lose their faith and only a reduced number return when it is time to start a family. I pray that this may not be the case with you. Amen.

This is why you will notice your catechism formation programme was focused on rebuilding a solid foundation where you encounter Jesus Christ and experience him in a transforming way in your life. I have gone through all your coursework and I must say I am impressed. Each of you, in your own unique way, has expressed great Faith. Well done. Your formation is meant to ensure you live the very Faith experience and be prepared to take up the role of discipleship in whatever community you find yourself. The preparation to become a disciple of the Lord takes a life time, the confirmation process is meant to open your eyes to a new world of Faith. This has been your journey in Faith. You have experienced the Sacred Scripture and the tradition of the Church. You now know, or know where to
get the teachings of the church; our unadulterated deposit of faith han ded down by our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ.

You now know, or know where to find what we believe and why we believe them. I kindly encourage you: Do not choose to go through life seeking the next sin that will complicate your life, keeping
you in chains. Set yourself free from the grip of the world, and open yourself to Jesus by drawing closer to him in prayer. Be a good boy and a good girl that will grow up finely into a good man and a good woman of God.

The most important part of everything you have learnt is to attend Mass. Remember, Prayer is like Oxygen to us. Without prayer we can do nothing. You have nurtured a friendship with Jesus and I hope enables you to speak freely with him as your dear friend in a heart to heart conversation. I hope prayer becomes something you enjoy doing.

I trust you will come to appreciate that it is a very positive thing to be a Catholic and a person of Faith. I pray that you are never conflicted in life; and when you are, you are able to change and fix your belief so that you do not go through life confused and conflicted, which always leads to a crisis. G.K. Chesterton said: ‘When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.’ My prayer for you is that, from today, the song that will echo in your heart will be: I rejoiced when I heard them say: “let us go to God’s house”. Psalms 121 [122] v. 1
God bless
Your Parish Priest,
Father Valentine Erhahon
Thursday 11th May 2023

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28 May, Pentecost: What indeed if they do?

A little conversation about prayer.

This dove hovers over the place where the priest vested for Mass in the Catholic Church of Our Lord in the Attic, Amsterdam, hidden away in plain view, in the centre of town. Illegal but tolerated.

Our friend Christina Chase set off this little conversation, speculating ‘What good are my prayers, really?’ Her original post follows this introduction.

Christina Chase April 20

Have you ever wondered if your prayers for others have any real beneficial effect at all? I have. I still am wondering sometimes.

Sacred Scripture tells us that praying for others is important. Jesus did not only say “Love your enemies,” but also “pray for those who persecute you.” Jesus Himself prayed for His disciples during the time of His earthly life. St. Paul continually asked the people to whom he addressed his letters to pray for him.

Praying for others seems to be the right thing to do. And I sincerely try to do it. Although, of course, I could try harder and do it better. I am merely human, after all. Life is busy and … well … praying can sometimes feel like tedious work. When I think of the many prayers that I could raise to God on behalf of countless others, it feels rather daunting. And I wonder if it’s really necessary. Even when I put in the time and effort to pray deeply for someone I know or someone who has asked me to pray for them, I still wonder.

What good are my prayers, really? Doesn’t God love all the people for whom I pray even more than I do? How does it work? I wonder as if I could actually discover the answer and understand a profound mystery of God. And then, yes, I doubt, and wonder if it works at all.

”But what if it does…?” a little voice in my heart said recently.

Maybe my prayers for other people don’t make a difference.…But what if they do?

 Christina Chase

I could not leave those questions hanging in the air, even if I couldn’t answer them properly. So here are my first thoughts.

A first response, late at night

Dear Christina,

you lay out the arguments effectively (I shall copy this post to my blog, if I may!?)

In this world there is always room for doubt, but have you never felt support from people’s prayers? Of course, you can tell yourself that that feeling could just be your imagination, but if knowing that prayer has been offered by someone else for your benefit boosts your confidence, your courage, perhaps the Spirit is at work in you, and linked to your friend that was inspired to pray for you. I think the Spirit is the missing link here.

And I’m too tired to think straight for one more sentence.



Only God knows

Christina Chase commented in response to willturnstone:What indeed if they do?

So good to hear from you! You are in my prayers, my friend. And yes, you may copy this post in any way that you like.

I do believe, like you said, that I have benefited from people’s prayers. Their prayers may not have been answered exactly the way they intended, but only God knows what is truly best.

The Holy Spirit at work within us, among us, and between us is perhaps exactly the key in understanding how intercessory prayer “works.” Perhaps our guardian angels in communication as well? I’ve been trying to be more open to the presence of angels.

God works in mysterious ways.

With much love,
Pax Christi

Pentecost! The Church of 120 believers are already on the way to being transformed. They wanted to be together – whether they were all sleeping where they met or they returned to lodgings at night, we are not told, but for sure, the Upper Room was hardly the Savoy. How did they keep the place clean?

We know that the risen Jesus appeared there at least twice, which made it a special place. His presence must have been felt in the very air of the Upper Room. It was a place of prayer; talking to Jesus, they were coming to realise, was and is prayer, ‘My Lord and my God’.

The group were praying to the Father. Just sitting around, talking about Jesus, was prayer, the Spirit at work in the disciples as they spoke and listened to each other. We too are called to open our hearts to the Spirit and to live within the Communion of Saints. Praying for others is part of this, but so too is opening our hearts to each other. Listening to each other (perhaps through e.mails) helps focus our prayer when we pray for each other but as Christina reminds us, God knows what is truly best.

And what about the gardening Morgan and I do for Mrs A? More often than I would like, as a conscientious gardener, to pull more weeds than I can when she wants, or needs, to talk, to be reassured. Mrs A has dementia and needs to make connections with her garden (among other things) because that helps to put her on her feet metaphorically. She helped create this garden with her late husband. Through pulling up a few weeds and chatting she connects with her own history and the many blessings she has received through her married life.

Laborare est Orare: to work is to pray; we can pray without being conscious of doing so. We can pray for others without being conscious of doing so, as in my working for and with Mrs A. But examining what happens shows that my work-prayer provides her with grace here and now. We can trust that a prayer mention of a distant person is also a ‘channel of thy peace’ though less obvious to mere mortals.

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26 May: Prayer to the Holy Spirit for the Synod.

Adsumus, Sancte Spiritus

We are approaching the Feast of Pentecost when the first Church gathered in the Upper Room and received the Holy Spirit with her ‘sevenfold gifts’. Let us pray at this time for the success of the Synod, using the Church’s ancient prayer.

Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been used at Councils, Synods and other Church gatherings for hundreds of years. It is attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636). As we
are called to follow the path of the Synod 2021-2023, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to operate within us so that we may be a community and a people of grace.

We stand before You, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us,
make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go
and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful;
do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path
nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity
so that we may journey together to eternal life
and not stray from the way of truth
and what is right.
All this we ask of You,
who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son,
forever and ever. Amen.

Window, Saint Aloysius, Somers Town, London, England.

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We are sailing!

Dover Harbour, the Gateway to England – or the Gateway to Europe and the World.

Read about a Stella Maris sailing pilgrimage around the British Isles, which is now underway. The pilgrims have already visited Dover en route from Southampton to Lindisfarne, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and back to Portsmouth, Southampton’s neighbouring, rival city.

God Bless Mintaka and all who sail in her! Today they should be in Scottish waters.

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21 May; Our Blessed Lady’s Lullaby, VI: the ensuing blessed race.

Thee sanctity herself doth serve,
Thee goodness doth attend,
Thee blessedness doth wait upon,
And virtues all commend.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Great kings and prophets wished have
To see that I possess,
Yet wish I never thee to see,
If not in thankfulness.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Let heaven and earth, and saints and men,
Assistance give to me,
That all their most occurring aid
Augment my thanks to thee.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

And let the ensuing blessed race,
Thou wilt succeeding raise,
Join all their praises unto mine,
To multiply thy praise.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

And take my service well in worth,
And Joseph’s here with me,
Who of my husband bears the name,
Thy servant for to be.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

‘The ensuing blessed race’, that means us! We succeed to Mary’s generation on this earth, as Charles III succeeds, not just to his mother but to ancestors going back to Alfred and beyond. If Rawlings could use such words, living in exile, then the more should we join our praises unto Mary’s, and assist her in proclaiming the joy of her life, her little boy.

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17 May, Our Blessed Lady’s Lullaby, II: my child, my choice.

Mother of Good Counsel, Plowden, Shropshire.

In this section of his poem, Rawlings celebrates the bond of love between Mary and her babe, her bliss, her child, her choice. Let us pray for those mothers whose children are not their bliss and joy but a source of worry and despair, mothers who feel they have no choices.

My wits, my words, my deeds, my thoughts,
And else what is in me,
I rather will not wish to use,
If not in serving thee.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

My babe, my bliss, my child, my choice,
My fruit, my flower, and bud,
My Jesus, and my only joy,
The sum of all my good.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

My sweetness, and the sweetest most
That heaven could earth deliver,
Soul of my love, spirit of my life,
Abide with me for ever.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Live still with me, and be my love,
And death will me refrain,
Unless thou let me die with thee,
To live with thee again.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

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16 May, Our Blessed Lady’s Lullaby, I: his love sustains my life.

Richard Rowlands was a Catholic convert when that was not a comfortable position in England, under Elizabeth I and James I. He did not graduate from Oxford University so as not to take the Oath of Allegiance to Elizabeth and soon made his way to the Low Countries where he assumed the surname of a branch of his family, Vestegen. He became a prolific author in both English and Dutch. This is the beginning of his long meditative song for Our Lady, mother of the infant Jesus. The rest of the piece will follow over the next few days.

Our Blessed Lady’s Lullaby

By Richard Rowlands, c1601.

Upon my lap my Sovereign sits,
And sucks upon my breast;
Meanwhile his love sustains my life,
And gives my body rest.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

When thou hast taken thy repast,
Repose, my babe, on me.
So may thy mother and thy nurse,
Thy cradle also be.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

I grieve that duty doth not work
All that my wishing would,
Because I would not be to thee
But in the best I should.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

Yet as I am and as I may,
I must and will be thine,
Though all too little for thyself
Vouchsafing to be mine.

Sing, lullaby, my little boy,
Sing, lullaby, my lives joy.

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15 May: Mary Magdalene and the other Mary


Our Master lies asleep and is at rest;
His Heart has ceased to bleed, His Eye to weep.
The sun ashamed has dropt down in the west;
Our Master lies asleep.

Now we are they who weep, and trembling keep
Vigil, with wrung heart in a sighing breast,
While slow time creeps, and slow the shadows creep.

Renew Thy youth, as eagle from the nest;
O Master, who hast sown, arise to reap:
No cock-crow yet, no flush on eastern crest;
Our Master lies asleep.

Christina Rossetti is an Easter person, as is Mary Magdalene and the Other Mary, Jesus’ mother. Together keeping vigil, the cock-crow they await brings not betrayal but renewal and rising.

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Synod News: the working document for the session this Autumn

The Synod’s working document approved

General Secretariat for the Synod
NEWS RELEASE – 12.05.2023 – ESP – FRA – ITA (Original) – POR

Draft Working Document for the Synod on Synodality approved 

On 10-11 May, the 15th Ordinary Council* of the General Secretariat of the Synod met in Rome to discuss the Instrumentum laboris: the working document for participants in the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (4-29 October 2023).

In plenary session and in language working groups, the Council members accompanied by some consultants reviewed, amended and approved the Instrumentum laboris, which is scheduled to be published in early June.

The participants also approved the assembly’s methodology. Furthermore, the work included a reflection on the preparation of the participants and some information on the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil on 30 September next as part of the Together2023 initiative (for more information: www.together2023.net) and the spiritual retreat for participants of the assembly (1-3 October 2023).

The meeting took place in an atmosphere of great fraternity and was marked by several moments of prayer and time for personal reflection.
*Members of the Ordinary Council take office at the end of the Ordinary General Assembly that elected them. They are members of the following Ordinary General Assembly and cease their mandate when the latter is dissolved.

Who are the members of the Ordinary Council?
Copyright  2023 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
General Secretariat for the Synod of BishopsVia della Conciliazione, 34Vatican City 00120Vatican City State (Holy See)

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