A Retreat at Pleshey ALL FOR JESUS from April 24th – 26th, 2020

All for Jesus! thou hast loved us,
All for Jesus! thou hast died,
All for Jesus! thou art with us,
All for Jesus crucified!

This traditional silent preached Retreat takes the Eucharist as its theme. Each address will open up different aspects – Prayer and Preparation, Confession and Reconciliation; Nurtured by the Word; The World’s Offering; Our Sacrifice of Thanksgiving, and Life’s Oblation.

There will be a celebration of the Eucharist and half-an-hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for communal silent prayer each day, but no expectation that you should take part – just a hope you will find these of help.

The retreat begins at 6pm so please try to arrive between 4pm and 5pm to have time to settle in. It concludes after lunch on the last day and rooms need to be vacated by 11am.

Chelmsford Diocesan House of Retreat at Pleshey was home to the Servants of Christ, an enclosed congregation of Anglican sisters, from 1906 – 1914 after which it was taken over by the diocese. In the 1920’s Evelyn Underhill led many Retreat’s here, and her name is now forever associated with the house.

The Retreat will be conducted by Fr. John-Francis SMMS who was an Anglican Franciscan for 25 years until released from his Vows in 2002. By then he had become parish priest of St Andrews’, Romford where he remained until 2011. During that time he trained on the Ignatian Spirituality Course and began teaching at the then London Spirituality Centre (now the London Centre for Spiritual Direction) where he continues to work as a spiritual director and pastoral supervisor. When invited he still exercises a priestly ministry and retains ties with the Franciscans.

Cost for full board: £164/£180

If you would like a booking form or have any questions, contact: retreathouse@chelmsford.anglican.org

Life as a Franciscan Sister or Brother… could this be for me … ?

a day to explore Franciscan community life in the Church of England

> Franciscan sisters and brothers share their stories of God’s call and their life in community

> DVDs on St Francis and Franciscans today to help us reflect, with opportunities for discussion

> time for your questions …….

> Lunch, tea/coffee etc provided

Date: Saturday 28th March 2020: 10am – 4pm

Central London venue: The Community of St Francis, St Alphege Clergy House, Pocock Street, London SE1 0BJ
Booking essential (by 21st March please)
To book: Contact suecsf@franciscans.org.uk / 020 7928 7121
with your name and contact details.

A SINGING HEART

 

It’s easy to sink into gloom and moroseness, especially in the dark days at the end of the year. Yet we are surrounded (even in London Zone 4) with trees that sing for joy. Walking past the small, ancient meadow which clings to the slopes of the hill close to where we live I suddenly ‘saw’ the trees glowing with the yellowness of late autumn – and my heart sang for joy. The man walking in front of me had his eyes glued to his iPhone – maybe he was watching something that lightened his heart, but so often we simply don’t ‘see’ what creation offers to change our hearts.

The psalmist knows this and often tells of the way the whole world sings for joy:

Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad;
let the sea and all within it thunder praise.
Let the land and all it bears rejoice.
Then will all the trees of the wood shout for joy
at the presence of the LORD. (Ps.96. 12f)

When I see the heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you arranged,
what is man that you should keep him in mind,
the son of man that you care for him? (Ps.8. 4f)

It’s easy to let ourselves be drawn into despondency, sadness and despair yet we are surrounded by a world which cries out that beauty, wonder and mystery surround us. The Psalms, in particular, will direct our attention to the glory and majesty that is ours as part of a good creation, yet we can forget or ignore this source of well-being. The waters that feed our heart can be fresh or they can be brackish, pure or toxic. Just as we are becoming aware of the dangers to our bodies of feeding off unhealthy food, so we need to be aware that what we look at can nourish or poison us.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord is king!”
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16. 31f)

Compassion and Empathy

‘An arch’, wrote Leonardo da Vinci, ‘is nothing else than a strength caused by two weaknesses; for the arch in buildings is made up of two segments of a circle and each of these segments, being itself very weak, desires to fall; and as one withstands the downfall of the other, the two weaknesses are converted into a single strength.’  (Mann, A Double Thirst, pp.87-88)  Quoted by Fr Bill Kirkpatrick to illustrate the need for compassion and empathy (The Creativity of Listening, DLT, p.42)

ENFOLDED IN CHRIST: The Inner Life of a Priest

On May 31st Canterbury Press will be publishing the book* I’ve written concerning priestly spirituality.  From my background as a Franciscan friar for twenty-five years, an interest in Ignatian and Benedictine spirituality and ten years as Rector of an urban parish, this book seeks to explore the heart of priestly spirituality.  It is not about ministry, mission, preaching, evangelisation, pastoral care etc.  but how, through our ‘abiding in the heart of Jesus’, we realise our vocation.

I have also addressed concerns that have emerged in my ministry of spiritual direction and pastoral supervision over many years and drawn on my experience as Vocations Adviser and Novice Guardian for the Franciscans.

It is different from some other books on this subject in exploring matters such as:. the place of confession in the life and ministry of the priest; life as a deacon; praying the Daily Office; Eucharistic living; spiritual direction and supervision; sexuality; letting go of our roles, detachment etc…  It also makes wide use of the Principles of the Society of St. Francis and the dynamic of the Ignatian Exercises and keeps in mind that not all priests will exercise their ministry in a parish context.  However I hold that for all of us, as St. John Vianney said, “the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”

It’s aimed at those considering and preparing for ordination as well as those who are ordained. It should also be of interest and help to spiritual directors, pastoral supervisors, clergy mentors, those concerned with the well-bring of the clergy – and any Christian interested in developing their spirituality.

Others have written about the ministry of the priest and some have sought to look at how ‘being’ can help ‘doing’ and I trust what I have written will complement some of these.  Apart from what one might expect in a book like this – chapters on Prayer, the Divine Office etc. it also includes material about:

⇒ Being rooted on God’s love for us;

⇒  Realising the need for constant ‘conversion of the heart’ and confession;

⇒  Issues concerning formation and formators;

⇒  Eucharistic living;

⇒  Looking at ‘being beneath the role’;

⇒  Issues of sexuality, celibacy and the single life;

⇒  Letting go.

For inspiration I take one of the motto’s of the Benedictines:

  Ut in Omnibus Glorificetur Deus:
That in all things God may be glorified

From the Foreword by Christopher, Bishop of Southwark: ‘The tradition he inherits, distils and passes on is a broadly based one, in which writers and thinkers as various as George Herbert, Maya Angelou and Paul Tillich all have a part to play. But at its heart is the deep hope of humanity this side of eternity, to take the shape which God purposes for each of us, to grow into our true selves, to become the people it is good for us to be.’ 

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*  ISBN-13: 9781786220462,  RRP £12.99 ($21)

 

ST JOHN OF GOD

Today, March 8th, is the Commemoration of St John of God (1495-1550).  He was a Portuguese-born soldier turned health-care worker in Spain whose followers later formed the Hospital Order of Saint John of God, a worldwide Catholic religious institute dedicated to the care of the poor, sick, and those suffering from mental disorders.  He is considered one of Spain’s leading religious figures.  Here is an extract from a letter he wrote that is read during the Office of Readings:

‘If we kept before us the mercy of God, we can never fail to do good so long as we have the strength.  For if we share with the poor, out of love for God, whatever he has given to us, we shall receive according to his promise a hundredfold in eternal happiness.  That indeed is a fortunate and happy way of gaining a profit!  Who would not entrust his possessions to this best of merchants, who handles our affairs so well?  With outstretched arms he begs us to turn toward him, to weep for our sins, and to become the servants of love, first for ourselves, then for our neighbours.  For just as water extinguishes a fire, so does love wipe away sins.’

COLLECT
O God, who filled Saint John of God
with a spirit of compassion,
grant, we pray,
that, giving ourselves to works of charity,
we may merit to be found among the elect in your Kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

DRAFT LETTER TO SUPERMARKETS CONCERNING PLASTIC PACKAGING

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you as a major producer of plastic waste to ask that your company take seriously your need to substantially reduce the amount of non-biodegradable packaging used in your stores.

Like thousands of others I share a deep concern at the growing amount of such goods damaging our environment and the long term effects for future generations. During this holy season of Lent many of us are trying to use less plastic but it is clear that supermarket chains are not helping in this effort. From products unnecessarily packed in plastic to packaging that is almost impossible to break into you must be aware that you, like other chains, are a major cause of such waste. Could you not do far more to reduce the use of this product? Take some simple examples: cucumbers don’t need to be wrapped in plastic. Why can’t cheese bought from the counter not be wrapped in grease-proof paper as it used to be? Why do many vegetables and fruit need to be wrapped in plastic? And if you really need to use plastic why is it not always recyclable?  Is there any ethical argument as to why, by now, you still use non-biodegradable plastics? And why not use cardboard or paper packaging which provides a traditional, degradable means of wrapping goods? For centuries we did not need over-wrapped products but everywhere I look in your stores and elsewhere plastic has a strangle-hold on the products sold.

So I am asking you to organise a survey of the non-degradable packaging you use; to ask your suppliers to do the same, and to think about and do your part to reduce this dangerous tsunami of plastic which is endangering our environment and, in places, killing it. Why not, for example, offer paper rather than polythene bags? It’s only recently that you’ve felt it necessary not offer such bags for people to place fruit and vegetables in.

I am sure you want to be known as an ethical retailer who takes your responsibility to the environment seriously but until you are clearly committed to stemming this awful tide that is flooding our world your commitment cannot be taken seriously. What steps will you take to protect our future?

Yours faithfully,

(A downloadable version available here)

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SOME SUPERMARKET CONTACT DETAILS:

John Allan (Chairman), Tesco PLC, Tesco House, Shire Park, Kestrel Way, Welwyn Garden City, AL7 1GA

David Potts (CEO – david.potts@wmmorrisons.co.uk), Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC, Hilmore House, Gain Lane, Bradford, BD3 7DL

Michael Coupe, (CEO), Sainsbury’s Store Support Centre, 33 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT

PLASTIC-LESS LENT 2018

Lent is the time when we remember the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, facing challenge and temptation. It is a time when we reflect on God’s purpose for our life. This year we’re invited to join others who are promising to try and live a PLASTIC-LESS LENT – to reduce the actions which damage God’s Creation. Over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950s. That’s enough plastic to cover every inch of the UK ankle-deep more than ten times over. Just 9% was recycled.

To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’ The Anglican Communion’s Fifth Mark of Mission. Share your journey with others on the Plastic-Less Lent Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/148636355799566/

 

WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY 2018

18TH – 25TH JANUARY 2018
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Pray for the unity of all the Christian Churches:

Thursday, Jan. 18th     Chair of St Peter                                 Orthodox

Friday, Jan. 19th          St Wulfstan, Bp                                   Roman

Saturday, Jan. 20th     Ss Fabian Pp & Sebastian, MM         Oriental

3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME                                          Anglican

Monday, Jan. 21st       St Vincent DcnM                                 Lutheran

Tuesday, Jan. 23rd      Feria                                                      Methodist

Wednesday, Jan. 24th St Francis de Sales BDr                     Reformed

Thursday, Jan. 25th     CONVERSION OF ST PAUL               Protestant

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Eternal Father,
we praise you for sending your Son
to be one of us and to save us.
Look upon your people with mercy,
for we are divided in so many ways,
and give us the Spirit of Jesus to make us one in love.

We ask this gift, loving Father,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

SOME PRINCIPLES FOR A COMPASSIONATE HEART

A set of daily Principles for Compassion have been published which are intended to offer a means of reflecting on some of the ways in which we might develop a compassionate heart.  They are available here.  For ease of use they are divided into daily portions but are also separated into sections which might be read together.  The idea for creating them owes much to those Principles which guide the lives of members of the Society of S. Francis.

Knowing that many will have other obligations and commitments, these reflections should not be regarded as a burdensome routine to be undertaken.  Rather it is hoped they might be of some interest and assistance in nurturing the great, universal virtue of compassion.