As this year’s Alpha course drew to a close their was opportunity for everyone participating to discuss: what next for them and the parish?
One participant suggested that we try and make God too small. God may be there to turn to when things go pear shaped or as a vague concept of togetherness we get in touch with on a Sunday. However, God is everything and in everything God’s love is infused. Maybe we need to see God beyond what we see at the Tabernacle and see God as the great power behind our world.
There was discussion about the secular sort of world we are living in and the crisis of confidence our bishops may be suffering. Ultimately leadership was seen as coming from within our own parish. Praise was made of parish leaders such as Julie Marshall and all she does for the sick and elderly.
One recurring theme in the discussion was the need for us to be there for those finding things tough, whether through loneliness or other issues like struggling to make income meet all the demands of a growing family.
While visiting people in the parish might seem obvious, do we do enough of it?
Visiting doesn’t need to become an institution staffed by committees! Visiting can be a simple matter of knowing who is in our neighborhood sufficient to be able to say hello to them, then noticing that they are maybe going through strife and having the courage to pop over and lend a helping hand.
In our churches there seems to be a great appreciation of the stories of others and how those stories can inspire us to live fuller lives.
Across the group there was the feeling that we could use multi-media in our churches better. There are a vast number of very inspiring videos available on the web and these could be added to our Masses to provide variety in our story telling.
It was acknowledged that we all “lose” our faith now and again and that it was in our strong parish communities that we are reassured and find it again. The power of the Holy Spirit blows us together and together we create God’s kingdom in our suburbs.
Mission Sunday 21 October 2018
In his message for Mission Sunday this month Pope Francis underlines the fact that we are mission! We find ourselves here on earth not by our own choice; God has placed us here. We discover our mission as we unfold our lives! This journey of life is not solitary, but a mission achieved together with others. It is a partnership between older people sharing their wisdom and experience to become testimony and encouragement for those looking to the future. Youth with their freshness and enthusiasm makes them a source of support and hope for those who have already travelled through the years. Pope Francis insightfully writes “in this blend of different stages in life, the mission of the Church bridges the generations, our faith in God and our love of neighbour are a source of profound unity. The transmission of faith, the heart of the Church’s mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a newfound meaning and fulfilment in life. The spread of the faith “by attraction” calls for hearts that are open and expanded by love”.
Parish Book Club: JULIAN OF NORWICH
The Parish Book Club has been studying a woman who in May 1373 had a major vision. This vision led her to write a book that is the earliest surviving book written in English by a woman.
St Julian of Norwich lived in a small house joined to the church in the city of Norwich. She was known as a solitary in so far as her life revolved around her small house, its walled garden and the adjoining church. Her life was simple, mainly devoted to prayer and contemplation.
She lived in a time of great trouble. Plague swept through the city repeatedly. Disease and bad weather produced famine. The church itself suffered schism with two competing popes. The Hundred Years War was raging. People like John Wycliffe that called for reform in the Church were burned as heretics.
Julian asked three things of God. First, she wanted to experience the passion of Christ which she does as a by stander with the full graphic scene happening as if she was there. Second, she asked to suffer horrendous illness that she might recover from cleansed of her past and fully focused on Christ. Third, she asked for wounds of contrition, compassion and longing for God. These wishes are also granted.
From these wishes comes a joyous trust in God. For her love and joy are paramount in the experience of God.
For readers today the writings she has left help us to reexamine patriarchal images of God. When she speaks of God’s masculinity she tells of Christ’s immense courtesy. Perhaps today we see God as almighty judge or awesome king. Julian invites us to see God’s courtesy , supremely respectful of us, patient with our failings and close as well.
While sin is certainly real for Julian, it is not the preeminent reality. She is conscious of it primarily in herself. Over and over she applies the words from her revelation that somehow in the mystery of God, “all will be well”. She has sympathy for people in trouble, weighed down by their sins, while not denying that they could possibly be damned she trusts that Christ has all things in hand and will bring good out of all things.
The joy that Julian gives us, reminds us that there is no reason for Christianity to wear a gloomy or sour face. God loves us to the extent of stooping into a human form and dying for us. Wake up to the beauty and the love which oozes out of every moment of creation!
Now our Lord reminded me of the desire for him I had earlier. I saw that nothing stood in my way but sin, and I realized that this is the same for all of us, and I thought that if there were no sin, we would all be pure and akin to our Lord just as we had been created. But in my vision Jesus informed me of everything necessary for me to know and he told me: Sin is necessary, but everything will turn out for the good, and all will be well, and everything will be well. By the simple word, “sin” God reminded me of all that is not good and of the suffering and grief of all creation, and above all of the utter shame and sacrifice he endured for our salvation. We have all suffered woe and sorrow as we follow master Jesus, and we shall do so until we are utterly purified. I did not see sin itself, for it has no real substance, it is not real, it can be known only by the suffering it causes, and even that pain lasts but a while. And during the woe we might take consolation in our Lord’s suffering. And out of his tender love he consoles us, saying: True, sin caused this pain, but all will be well. In His voice I never hear a hint of blame, why should we in turn blame God?
All Will be Well, Based on the Classic Spirituality of Julian of Norwich, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana 1995
St Vincent de Paul
Last month the St Vincent de Paul Society in the parish celebrated Mass for its members and supporters. The Society of St Vincent de Paul is an international Catholic lay organisation inspired by the Gospels of Jesus Christ. This is a ground-roots organisation whose members and volunteers have been helping countless families and individuals for more than 150 years.
Vincentians work in a caring and practical manner to promote human dignity and justice through personal contact with those in need, hence the motto, People Helping People. The Society mission is to help people in crisis, comforting them and assuring them that their burdens are not meant to be carried alone. In giving thanks for the great work of the Society in our parish we also give thanks for the great vitality it brings to our parish. $1,800 was raised last month for disaster recovery in India in a province associated with Fr Tony of ICPE fame who used to live in our parish. Also, last month the St Vincent de Paul book fair was a great occasion, raising over $5,000. The steady stream of people coming into St Anne’s Hall and going out with an armful of books was proof that people still read!
Holy Cross School welcomed Mayor Justin Lester and chef Steve Logan to the Garden to Table programme. They showcased the skills and knowledge the students need for lifelong learning. In all areas of the school students are given the opportunity to develop the Key Competencies- these are the skills to communicate and collaborate as a team. Justin and Steve were very impressed with our students and talked about how important these skills are in the students future careers.
Earlier this year St Patrick’s won air flights to Rotorua for our year 6,7 and 8 students. The children are very excited about this trip and will be visiting Rotorua to explore Te Puia, where they will study geysers, mud pools, Maori art and culture, as well as attend a concert. After this they will attend the Agrodome farm show, followed by a visit to Rainbow Springs, exploring NZ bird life and finally a ‘Big Splash’ water ride. The interweaving of these experiences will allow the opportunity for an awareness of how special places unite, connect and sustain people with their spirituality, essential to keeping the soul of their culture alive. For our Maori students it will provide an opportunity to be proud and identify with values that are important to them. Air New Zealand are also filming the children’s adventures to promote their school projects, so the next time you fly keep an eye out for St Patrick’s School.
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