Tag Archives: work

26 January, Little Flowers CIII: a vision of Saint Francis, I.

We return to the Little Flowers of Saint Francis for our last few extracts from this ancient text. It’s clear that the brothers did not know what to make of the stigmata, the marks of the Passion of Jesus seared onto his body, though they recognised it as a holy sign in a holy man. It was his life that was holy before any such marks were imposed on him. We start with a brother at prayer …

A devout and holy friar, while reading of Saint Francis’s most holy Stigmata, began with great travail of spirit to consider what those so secret words could have been, which Saint Francis said that he would not reveal to any one while he lived; which the Seraph had spoken to him. And this friar said within himself: “Saint Francis willed not to speak those words to any one during his lifetime; but now, after his bodily death, perchance he would tell them, if he were prayed devoutly so to do”. Thenceforward, the devout friar began to pray God and Saint Francis that they would reveal those words. 

This friar continuing eight years in this prayer, until one day, after eating, thanks having been given in the church, he was in prayer in a certain part of the church, and was praying to God and Saint Francis touching this matter, more devoutly than he was wont, and with many tears; when he was called by another friar, who commanded him in the name of the Guardian to bear him company to the town for the good of the Place. 

Doubting not that obedience is more meritorious than prayer, as soon as he had heard the commandment of his superior, he left off praying and went with that friar that called him. And, as God willed it, he, by this act of ready obedience, merited that which he had not merited by his long praying. 

As soon as they had gone forth from the gate, they met two strange friars, who appeared to have come from a far country; and one of them seemed a young man and the other old and lean; and, by reason of the bad weather, they were all muddy and wet. Wherefore that obedient friar had great compassion for them, and said unto his companion: “O dearest brother mine, if the business whereon we are going may wait a little, inasmuch as these strange friars have great need to be charitably received, I beseech thee to permit me first to go and wash their feet, and especially those of this aged friar, who hath the greater need thereof; and you will be able to wash those of this younger one; and thereafter we will go about the business of the convent”. 

They went back and received those strange friars very charitably, and took them into the kitchen to the fire to warm and dry themselves; at the which fire eight other friars of the Place were warming themselves. 

To be continued.

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16 January Synod Newsletter, January 21.

General Secretariat of the Synod
https://www.synod.va – media@synod.
#newsletter n.21 – 01/2023 – Available also in FR – PT – ES – ITShareTweetForwardShare
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ
 
Happy 2023! We resume our journey with our regular newsletters. 2023 will be a rich and particularly important year for the synodal conversion of the Church. Next October will see the first session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (4-29 October 2023). In this Sunday’s Angelus, Pope Francis wished to remind us of the eminently spiritual character of this assembly, announcing the Ecumenical Prayer Vigil in which he invites each of us to join. Indeed, as we prepare to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on the theme “Learn to do good, seek justice”, (Isaiah 1:17), the Holy Father reminds us that “The path of synodality … is and must be ecumenical, just as the ecumenical path is synodal” (Audience to His Holiness Mar Awa III, 19.11.2022).
 
But let us not be too hasty. In this second stage of the synodal process – the Continental Stage concerning the dialogue between the Churches of the same region, we are all called to continue the exercise of listening and discernment with the help of the Working Document for the Continental Stage, which you can find in several languages on our website synod.va
By the way, to keep you updated on the Continental Assemblies, I invite you to visit our websites synod.va and synodresources.org periodically. Some journalists from Vatican Media are preparing to cover and inform you about these meetings. You can also follow them through vaticannews.va

But that is not all. There are a number of initiatives underway aimed at your formation such as the Sophia University Institute course and the Mooc organised by a number of theologians from the Theology Commission of the General Secretariat of the Synod, or even a Press Conference to learn a little more about the synod process in Africa, next 17 January.
 
However, the New Year opened with the sad news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was also the former President of the General Secretariat of the Synod, and who, as a theologian, had also addressed the topic of Synodality. We would like to remember this man of God with the homily at the Mass in suffrage that Cardinal Grech addressed to the faithful gathered in Gozo Cathedral.
I’m getting too long…. I leave it to you to discover the rest.
Enjoy the reading

Thierry Bonaventura
Communication Manager
SAVE THE DATES
The synodal process in Africa
On Tuesday 17 January 2023 at 12 noon in Rome (GMT +1) there will be a press conference to present the synodal process in Africa during which some of the general secretaries of the sub-regional Episcopal bodies of the Continent will speak. It will be possible to follow the press conference on the Synod’s Facebook channel (facebook.com/synod.va).
To access the press conference, journalists must….Read more here

Training Course on SynodalityOn 17 January at 6 p.m. Rome time (GTM +1) with addresses by Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, and Monsignor Piero Coda, Secretary General of the International Theological Commission, the multilingual Formation Course on Synodality promoted by the Sophia University Institute – Evangelii Gaudium Centre will be opened…

Read more here
New Intensive Course (MOOC) on Synodality
Following the success of the previous edition that was attended by no less than 90,000 people, this second intercontinental online course will focus on the history, theology and practice of synodality.
The MOOC, which is completely free of charge, will take place online starting in February with lectures available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and German.Read more here

Ecumenical Vigil Prayer
In this Sunday’s after Angelus and on the eve of the celebration of the traditional Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Francis recalled how “the path to Christian unity and the Church’s path of synodal conversion are linked”.
To underline this close link, the announcement of an Ecumenical Prayer Vigil, next 30 September in St. Peter’s Square to which he invites “brothers and sisters of all Christian denominations” and with which “we will entrust to God the work of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops”.
To the young people who will come to Rome to participate in the ecumenical vigil Prayer, the Pope announced that there will be “a special programme throughout that weekend organized by the Taizé community”.Read more

Ratzinger’s choice

In his homily at the Mass in suffrage of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod, dwells on the figure of this giant of the faith in constant search of Truth.Go to the Homily

World Women’s Observatory launches a survey
The World Women’s Observatory (WWO), a project of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations  (WUCWO), has created a survey for women in positions of leadership in the 2021-2024 Synod. The survey is in response to concerns regarding the role of women in the Church expressed in the WDCS (Working Document for the Continental Stage).
The survey is anonymous, very brief and in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic. The first deadline for the Survey is February 1, 2023

Read more here

Pray for the Synod
In order to support the synodal journey and ask for the Spirit’s assistance, together with the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and UISG, we have set up a website in 5 languages: Church on the Way. Pray for the Synod. You too can send your prayer. See how to do it… 

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14 January, Review: Felix the Railway Cat

9781405929783: Felix the Railway Cat

Felix the Railway Cat By Kate Moore, Penguin 2017

Why did I pick this book up? I think it may have been the Huddersfield connection; the story unfolds at Huddersfield Railway station in Yorkshire where I have awaited my connection more than once when visiting family, though I haven’t been introduced to Felix. The last time we were there the weather was telling us to seek shelter, not feline friends. No doubt Felix was warm and snug inside.

This book tells how Felix ‘became the heart of a community’ but the community was there from the start and was drawn closer together by having a station cat. A great deal of preparation and skullduggery went into acquiring a cat. The station manager did not approve but his boss gave the go-ahead when he was seconded elsewhere and he returned to find a fluffy black-and-white kitten in residence, named Felix by vote among the whole station team. We read of adventures and misadventures, of the vet’s discovery that Felix was not a tom cat, but nobody supported changing her name to Felicity. It’s a charming story, well told.

But this is not just about Felix, Rodent Control Officer, nor even the many other duties she undertook, such as reassuring stressed passengers. It is also about the community at the station, staffed 24 hours per day, sometimes working alone, sometimes coming together, but always a team, built up by senior staff looking out for each other and their subordinates, but most importantly, taking care of passengers.

Read this book and you will understand that these railway men and women are dedicated to their passengers and would not lightly be striking and putting services at risk. It is not they who are ‘holding the country to ransom’.

Felix shares her Facebook page with her junior deputy, Bolt. The two of them share further adventures in ‘Full Steam Ahead, Felix’ also by Kate Moore.

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27 December: Saint John the Apostle

Undiluted Christmas cheer does not last long for Christians, at least we are soon shaken out of our liturgical high spirits. Yesterday we had the feast of the first Christian Deacon Stephen; today the long-suffering, beloved disciple John, imprisoned on the Island of Patmos, ‘for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ (Revelation 1:9)

Let’s hear from Eddie Gilmore of the London Irish chaplaincy talking about supporting the families of prisoners today. Here is one paragraph, you’ll find the full blog post here. Thank you, Eddie.

I’m always incredibly touched to meet people who have a loved one in prison. We often say that the family members also serve a kind of sentence, and there are all kinds of difficult feelings that they live with like shame and guilt. This was acknowledged by our excellent morning speaker, Mary from Accord, the marriage care organisation. She spoke of the importance of self-care, looking after oneself, and we all need to be reminded of that sometimes. I could have listened to Mary all day. There was then time to chat with those on our table about any issues. I was sitting next to a lovely woman from Co. Clare whose son is in prison in Devon. “He did something stupid,” she explained. I reassured her that each and every one of us in the room had done something stupid in our life but by the grace of God we hadn’t ended up in prison because of it. She went on to say that he had been lucky to get enrolled in a workshop each day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that repairs old bikes for sale on eBay, and for which he earns £12 a week. He is indeed one of the lucky ones, since many prisons in England and Wales are still enforcing ‘bang up’ of up to 23 ½ hours per day, partly due to a chronic shortage of prison officers. This young man is lucky as well in that his mother, in spite of the distance and the expense, will be making regular visits to him. It is this maintenance of family contact that has been shown to be the single most significant factor in eventual successful rehabilitation.

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17 December, Advent Light XVII: Carols by lamplight.

What made me think of carol singing in the run-up to Christmas? Whatever it was, my thoughts turned to Ireland in 1968 when I was a student at the Missionaries of Africa’s Saint Augustine’s College in Blacklion, Co Cavan and we continued the tradition of walking the local lanes and the village streets, calling at every house, including the Protestant pastor’s down by the lake.

Away from the village, Blacklion had many small farms with big dogs; there were dark skies and hedges to darken the way further, but we went everywhere and no-one got bitten. We had a couple of good farm lanterns but others were candle ends in jars, slung at the tops of poles. It was a challenge to read the words on the sheets, but we knew all of them and often enough in four voices.

Patricia Hawkins de Medina was living in the village;

My father, Dr. William Hawkins, was medical officer for St. Augustine’s in Blacklion, all those years ago. I have fond memories of attending some of the Christmas pantomimes as a child way back then, and I can remember many of the Fathers. And the students carol-singing at Christmas in the village, and all coming into the hall of our house in Blacklion. So many memories.*

We were creating memories for ourselves as well as the villagers. We were bearing witness to the coming of the Lord, both to our neighbours and to ourselves, as a community of committed young men. But this witnessing brought us face to face with the local families, good, hard-working, struggling people as well as those who were better-off, like the Hawkins family. It is good to be told how special it was to have a male voice choir singing under Patricia’s roof well after bedtime.

Not quite a band of Angels, but we were proclaiming peace on Earth, a grace that certain people in Ireland turned their backs on for years, as they still do in so many parts of the world.

We enjoyed our carol singing, and so did our audience: feasts are given to us to enjoy. Let us not yield to cynicism this Christmas, but pray for peace in our land and peace within our homes and families. Amen.

* See The Pelicans Website

Photograph: Children and staff at Brocagh, a local school, in 1968; some of them will have heard our singing.

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6 December: An Advent Message from Paul at L’Arche.

Raindrops at L’Arche Kent, November 2022.

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Dear Janet & Maurice 

I’m Paul, the Chair of the National Speaking Council in L’Arche, where I make sure people with learning disabilities get to say what they want. This Advent I’d like to share my message with you.

I like to do stuff. In Brecon, I make candles with Beacons Creative, I have a gardening job, mowing the lawns and planting, and I work in L’Arche’s Rebound Books workshop.

When I was in my twenties, I was in care homes. I was lonely and unhappy. I just sat on a chair like everyone else, watching TV, smoking like a trooper. If L’Arche wasn’t there, I’d either be in hospital or some other kind of care home today. I’ll be sharing my story later in Advent. Donate now L’Arche costs money. We need buildings for workshops and for people to live in, with gardens to look after and perhaps a little garage. We need to pay people. And we need to pay for get-togethers and parties, where we can meet our friends and have a laugh and a disco.

In L’Arche, everyone makes each other happy and cheery and safe. But we don’t have much money and we would like people to donate, to keep L’Arche going and make everyone happy. Would you give us a little donation?

Happy Christmas and have a happy new year.Paul Jones
L’Arche Brecon Member and Chair of the National Speaking Council Donate now Social care is going through a crisis of funding and vision. We want L’Arche to be a beacon for brilliant care and life-giving community in Britain, supporting hundreds more people like Paul. But we cannot do it without your support. Please give a gift to L’Arche this Advent.
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Caritas Newsletter, December 2022



 
 


CSAN Newsletter
Advent 2022

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 admin@csan.org.uk 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/

Raymond Friel



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.
 
Read More


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.
Read More

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.
Read More


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.
 Read More

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.

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December 1, A new saint: Charles de Foucauld

Click on the heading above to read about this man of the desert who lived and died among the Muslims of Algeria. Bishop Claude Rault, former Bishop of the Sahara, traces how St Charles sought to follow the hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth in a little corner of his diocese, and shows how important those years were both to Jesus and to his follower Charles.

From the Missionaries of Africa website.

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1 November: All Saints, Martyr Sisters of Africa.

Photograph from Missionaries of Africa.

Sisters have helped the Church in Africa flourish. They are teachers, doctors, nurses, community leaders and much more. Some have been killed for their faith.The Christian Church will always have martyrs, but not all of them will be known about, except very locally to their place of work. Gail DeGeorge, editor of the Global Sisters Report website, tells how GSR are committed to honouring these martyrs. She gives the example of two sisters from South Sudan, shot down a year ago. (Click the link above for the full story.)

Members of the Archdiocese of Juba, South Sudan, attend the Aug. 20, 2021, burial of Srs. Mary Daniel Abut and Regina Roba, Sisters of the Sacred Heart who were killed when their bus was attacked Aug. 16. (Courtesy of Christy John)

Members of the Archdiocese of Juba, South Sudan, attend the Aug. 20, 2021, burial of Srs. Mary Daniel Abut and Regina Roba, Sisters of the Sacred Heart who were killed when their bus was attacked Aug. 16. (Courtesy of Christy John)

The brutal killing of Srs. Mary Daniel Abut and Regina Luate Roba in South Sudan on Aug. 16, 2021, shook me and so many others. It was an act so blatantly evil it was hard to comprehend.

They had travelled with other Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Loa, where the congregation was founded. As they travelled home the next day, their van was ambushed by armed men who threatened the passengers. Some of the sisters and the male passengers left the van, hoping to divert the assailants and spare other passengers. Abut and Roba were hunted down, shot and killed, along with three other passengers.

Abut was the head teacher of a primary school and Roba, a tutor and administrator at the Catholic Health Training Institute. Both lived out their faith by working to improve the lives of others in the young and troubled nation of South Sudan. No one has been arrested in their killings.

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30 October: Dreary toil.

We continue reading from Hebridean Altars by Alistair Maclean his 1937 collection of the Islanders’ wisdom and piety. Who could not make their own the first part of the prayer we share today? The second part echoes Paul to the Colossians (1:24): “in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”

Christ says to each one of us, “Thou must take his place.”

Seven times a day, as I work upon this hungry farm,
I say to Thee,
"Lord, why am I here?
"What is there here to stir my gifts to growth?
"What great thing can I do for others --
"I who am captive to this dreary toil?"

And seven times a day Thou answerest,
"I cannot do without thee.
"Once did my Son live thy life,
"and by his faithfulness did show
"My mind, My kindness and My truth to men.
"But now He is come to My side.
"And thou must take His place."

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