Tag Archives: responsibility

15 September, Laudato Si’ I: our Sister cries out. Season of Creation XVI.

As we approach the Feast of Saint Francis on 4 October, we have been looking at aspects of Creation and our part in it as co-workers with God, the mistakes the human family have made, and that you and I continue to make. We read C.S. Lewis telling us that we have to go beyond warm-feeling nature religion and engage in serious theology if we want to have the right idea about God. So let’s get serious and read what Pope Francis says about the crisis in our corner of creation, the corner we have responsibility for. Here is the opening.

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Romans 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Genesis 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Note that the Pope uses the language of the Bible, which also inspired the poet Walter Savage Landor’s verse ‘content to sink into her lap when life is spent.’ The realisation of our earthliness is a first step to caring for our sister as God intended from the beginning of humanity.

Continuing Sister Johanna’s reflections on the Psalms; click here.

I’d like to say a few words about singing the psalms.  From my personal perspective as an ex-ballet dancer, music is highly important to me, and I am so grateful that this long tradition of singing prayer exists. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Autumn, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', poetry

11 June: Going Viral LXXX, Summertime

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_20210529_125638_resized_20210531_121026828.jpg
Westgate Gardens, Canterbury, May 29, 2021

There have been two times this year when I breathed more freely, both occurred when the weather was fine, but that was not the only reason.

We go back, first of all, to the Monday when schools reopened for all pupils. I don’t know if any homework was set that day, but I was walking through the city around 5.00 p.m. and there was a tangible air of joy around the place. It felt as if every teenager had gone home and dressed in their best and now they were gathering in the parks, on the steps of the theatre, in the disused car park – now adopted by skate-boarders, roller-skaters and people too young legally to use the electric scooters scattered around the town.

Everywhere though, the buzz of face to face chatter. It was so good to witness the love and solidarity bubbling up all around the town.

There followed weeks of inclement weather, a cold, dry, April, a cold, wet May. Dedicated walkers ventured out, many people did not seem to. Then the last long weekend in May that came with a bank holiday Monday was endowed with sunshine and warmth. This picture was taken quite early in the Saturday in one of the big city centre parks. The building in the background is Tower House, official residence of the Lord Mayor. The River Stour flows along the left of the picture behind a stone wall. It is liable to flood in wintertime but now entices young and old to look for fish or feed the ducks. When my grandson was 18 months old he ran across the grass to join some Italian students playing rugby. The lawns are also popular for picnics.

I wonder when we will be welcoming language students again, but that weekend it was good to see our own young people and families enjoying each other’s company. Long may it continue.

Leave a comment

Filed under corona virus, Daily Reflections, Laudato si', PLaces, Spring, Summer

21 May: Environment Novena – Day VIII

Today is the last but one day of prayer for the environment and our place within it as users and custodians. Find the Bishops’ post here.

In his Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given to him, but man too is God’s gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed (6).”

By responding to this charge, entrusted to them by the Creator, men and women can join in bringing about a world of peace. Alongside the ecology of nature, there exists what can be called a ‘human’ ecology, which in turn demands a ‘social’ ecology. All this means that humanity, if it truly desires peace, must be increasingly conscious of the links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology.

The human person, the heart of peace with all of creation.’ 
Pope Benedict XVII, 1 January 2007.

Leave a comment

Filed under Interruptions, Justice and Peace, Laudato si', Mission, Pentecost

17 February, Ash Wednesday: Just say no.

Adam and Eve, serpent centre stage. Dryburgh Abbey, Scotland.

Matthew 4:1-11, the Temptation of Jesus

In the war-against-drugs campaign, a popular slogan was used in commercials and billboards:
“Just say no.” That is precisely the lesson the gospel reading today urges upon us.
With each temptation the devil proposes, Jesus says no. What is suggested to us in this passage
from Matthew is that we have the power to keep a lot of trouble out of our lives by the use of a very
simple word.
However, many of us tend to discount the power we have to resist temptation. We prefer to believe
we are “victims” of circumstances, genetics, upbringing, or hormones. When we find ourselves
beset with problems, we look for someone or something else to blame, like Adam and Eve in Genesis
claiming, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate” – like saying “the devil made me do it”.
The reason we don’t like to face our power to say no is that if we can say no, then saying yes is an
admission of guilt. And not many of us like to admit that.
The lesson we learn in today’s readings is not that there is serious temptation awaiting us in the
world; we already know that. It is not, as Paul reminds us, that sin has serious consequences for
ourselves and others; we already have experience of that.
What we are hearing is a reminder that we are responsible for most of what goes on in our lives,
and we can say no – to our bad habits, our laziness, our inclination to lay blame on others for our
failings, our small-mindedness, our waste of time and energy in fruitless worry, our impulse to bring others
down.
We humans can be as resistant and stubborn as we want to be. We can say no to anything we want,
and stick to it. Think about it! We have the power; we use it all the time with things we don’t like.
The devil in today’s gospel displayed seductiveness by trying to get Jesus to consider values that
were not in his best interests, but the greatest seduction of all is to make us believe that we are
powerless over temptation, victimised by our weakness and failings.
It is the ultimate deceit. Effective adult living will always require that we refrain from making
excuses and blaming others and take full responsibility for what goes on in our lives.
We are what we are, and face what we face today because of the decisions we made yesterday.
Tomorrow will be what it will because of decisions we make today. All because of a simple yes or
no.
Lent has traditionally been a season of penance and self-denial. We mustn’t deny ourselves some
good, but something bad – something that is preventing us from being the best we can be,
something that is putting our spiritual growth on hold.
It will come as a pleasant surprise how much freedom awaits us and how more productive life
becomes when we learn to “just say no”.

Chris Shorrock, OFM Conv

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Lent

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Autumn, Christian Unity, corona virus, Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Mission, Year of Mercy

27 April: He must walk his grounds

Adam at Canterbury Cathedral, SJC

Robert Herrick, A Good Husband

A Master of a house (as I have read)
Must be the first man up, and last in bed:
With the Sun rising he must walk his grounds;
See this, View that, and all the other bounds:
Shut every gate; mend every hedge that's torn,
Either with old, or plant therein new thorn:
Tread o'er his glebe, but with such care, that where
He sets his foot, he leaves rich compost there.

Robert Herrick lived in turbulent times: 1591-1674. In other words Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I; the revolution and Cromwell; Charles II and the Restoration. ‘Husband’ here means householder as well as spouse. Looking after one’s estate, however small, was important then, and so it is now. Happy gardening and DIY!

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, poetry

11 December: the impenetrable accent

During the 1930s the British Colonial Office was beginning to grasp its duty to provide education for the young people of Uganda. The overwhelming majority of schools were provided by the Anglican and Catholic churches, but they were receiving some government finance and so  subject to inspection by British inspectors working for the Ugandan civil service.

One of these was a Scotswoman that the Anglican Bishop Stuart, who was based at Kampala, complained of. In retirement  he recalled how she had turned up to inspect one of his schools, and gave it poor marks and a bad report.

This surprised him, since he knew his schools, and this was a good one. However, on enquiring, he was told that nobody responded to her questions because nobody understood a word she said.

We can reflect in the words of Scotland’s National Poet:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion.

Robert Burns, To a Louse.

In particular, as parents or teachers, to see ourselves as children see us. We won’t find out by asking them, but by watching them in our presence.

Bishop Cyril Stuart was often at odds with his Christians, but when he retired to Worcester, he and his wife Mary were presented with a ceremonial scroll, on which they were portrayed with dark skin, because they were seen as one with their Ugandan Christian brothers and sisters. His memoirs are in Lambeth Palace Library. (see p 17).

MMB.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections, Mission, PLaces, poetry

22 October, Month of Mission : better together.

hughes-photo-group-pre-mission-2-800x532

In my reading about Archbishop Arthur Hughes there was a story from 1938 about his boss worrying. This priest was a great worrier, as it happened, but he was regional superior for Uganda, and the Superior General insisted he stay in the job.

On this occasion, Arthur Hughes was at the annual scout camp as an assistant county commissioner, not as chaplain, although there was daily Mass.

Father Superior had expected to see a separate Catholic Scout Movement such as still exist in France. It was not like that in Uganda.

Arthur Hughes and other fathers were dining with the leaders, and Father Hughes was wearing not his habit but full scout uniform including his shorts, or ‘petite culotte bombo’, apparently with the local Bishop’s approval. Hughes was ‘Mess President, General Secretary, Man of all work, and chief raconteur’, according to an unidentified newspaper report. No doubt he was enjoying himself, but why were the fathers taking orders from Protestant laymen?

Well, we might ask, why not?

Mr Lameka Sekaboga was appointed Assistant County Commissioner during the camp; even as Father Superior fretted, the organisation was being put into competent lay, Ugandan hands. It was surely better for Catholics to work with others to make this happen, Arthur Hughes could see that, his Superior could not, but concentrated on the differences that appeared to define Catholics, and within the church, to define clergy against lay people.

We now see many ministries working ecumenically: Street Pastors, food banks, refugee care, the list is long. What we can share, we should share. And salute those who made the first steps towards Churches working together.

Arthur Hughes (front, centre) and confreres about to leave for Africa.
Missionaries of Africa Archives.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Mission

August 2: Praying with Pope Francis, the family.

harvest18.1

Missio’s magazine, Mission Today, invites us to join Pope Francis and the whole Church in praying for his monthly prayer intentions, particularly on Fridays. The Pope’s intention for August is:

May families, through their life of prayer and love, become ever more clearly ‘schools of true human growth’.

There’s a long-standing slogan in the Catholic church that parents are the first teachers of their children. Which sometimes get turned on its head where modern technology is concerned, but if parents learn to use the gifts of IT for communication and relaxation, that’s surely some kind of human growth!

As a parent and grandparent though, the responsibility is there to care for the younger generations, but also to allow them to care for me. If Abel spontaneously and carefully paints a picture for his grandmother, some human growth is going on in her heart as well as his.

That word ‘schools’ suggests that families will have their regular disciplines, that its members will know, and learn, their responsibilities towards each other. An important part of the regular discipline of a family is the shared meal. Make time for it and don’t forget Grace before eating!

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Reflections