All posts by robcarter2012

How will we build resilience?

Resilience in a strom

It is easy in the modern world to think that everyone has simply “got it easy” compared to us. They may look like they find it easier to…

  • look good
  • have lots of friends
  • have a great family
  • enjoy their job
  • be happy and fulfilled
Getting back up again…

But in the simplest sense of course this is an illusion. It is actually about much more than this. We have to learn, and maybe as parents and teachers, teach resilience. It can give us the fire to overcome the challenges that life will pose us with.

On a very simple level we can look at the image of Jesus to help us to do this.

We can truly learn something profound from the story of Christ. This week in the Gospels we mark Jesus’ baptism, the start of His public life and mission. In essence we already recognise that He is destined to die for us and rise again. On this journey He would face real suffering and challenge and yet He stuck with it and lifted Himself up again. Even on his final journey to crucifixion Jesus fell and Simon was pulled from the crowd to share the burden of the cross with Him.

A few questions we can take from this;

  • How can we try and build resilience in our lives?
  • What will we hold on to most when things are tough?
  • How we can reach out to others when they have fallen?
  • What can we do as parents and teachers to help young people be resilient?
  • What can we do to look out for those who may feel overwhelmed in some way?

If we can do some of these things the sunshine will burst through the clouds, the rain will clear and we will have a clear view ahead of us. In a small way this is what we are called to do as Christians, as disciples, as humans – simply to walk alongside one another and lift each other up.

God bless.

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A chance to radiate energy…

Will you be a radiator in 2019?

Sometimes you just meet people who are great to be around. Someone who you want to spend more time with. They are magnetic and attractive in some way and make you feel confident and good about yourself. They “radiate” positivity, light and hope. In our heart of hearts this sounds like how we would all love to hear someone describe us.

In contrast you can at times come across people who are never content, happy or really fulfilled. They are never happier than when they get an opportunity to offload on someone else and share their woes and troubles. They may be the person you see and hope they don’t spot you or you have to try really hard to engage with or be nice to. At times there’s a risk that they simply suck the life out of people and the positivity around them.

Is there a risk you could be a morale hoover?

In essence we are challenged in to ask the question “How do we share our energy?” For me this is deeper than just our relationships but actually asks us to think about where our energy, love, gifts and talents actually come from.

We are challenged as Christians to see God in one another and equally to be a reflection of God in some way as we celebrate a new year and the Feast of the Epiphany.

A few thoughts and questions for the week ahead…

  • What can you do to bring light, warmth, hope and faith to the people you meet today?
  • How can we look to inspire, engage and allow everyone to reflect God in some way, especially in education?
  • What can we do to catch ourselves in times we feel like we are dragging others down and in fact ask for support if we are struggling with anything rather than live our lives with a negative mindset (or heart-set!)?

So finally we ask God to bless and inspire us in 2019 to radiate faith, hope and love not just in the grand moments but in the simple day to day interactions with one another.

Have a happy, successful and fulfilling year ahead.

God bless.

How will you realise potential?

Unleashing potential

At the heart of what we are called to do working in education is the focus on helping people to fulfil their potential. It is always inspiring to see people flourish and find what they are truly “called to do”.

I believe that we find true happiness when we are doing something that means something to us. Some people may find this in their professional lives, their personal lives or volunteering in their local community. It is easy to fall into a trap in society by thinking that we will only be happier if we have more – the latest phone, a bigger house, a newer car, a more exotic holiday. In essence I think this may give us a temporary high but not one that is lasting in any meaningful way.

As Christians we may well talk about this as discovering our vocation or finding what God has created us to do in some way. Often this isn’t as simple as deciding in teenage life what our life’s work will be but in fact is a journey of real challenge and discovery.

As teachers, or parents too, we have a responsibility to think about how we can best support, develop and discover with young people who they have been created to be. This can be a daunting challenge and responsibility but also an amazing opportunity.

A few thoughts for the week ahead;

  • What can you do to encourage people to flourish, thrive and develop their potential?
  • How can we sometimes in fact do the opposite and without thinking set people back?
  • What small things can we do to show we are interested in helping people fulfil their God-given gifts and talents?
  • How can we take them time to help discern what we, or the young people we serve, become the person God has created them to be?

In doing these things I believe this will lead to finding deep rooted happiness and satisfaction – it sounds like a journey worth getting ready for this Christmas season.

Will you have a growth heart-set this Christmas?

Develop a growth heart-set

This week we have started the advent journey and it is easy to be swept away by the tinsel, trees and preparations for Christmas itself. I believe that Advent is a really important journey, sometimes busy and challenging, which gets us ready to open our hearts to one another and God. So what can you do this year to make a difference?

Many people know all about growth-mindset – the sense that we should be resilient and see that our ability and intelligence can grow from what we learn and even from our mistakes. We are all willing, as parents and teachers, to praise our children for their efforts, commitment and hard work. What could be different when we start to think about developing a growth heart-set?

At the moment there seems plenty that people can disagree on, whether it be their view on Brexit or projections for what life holds in the future for all of us. I always believe that there is always more, in our humanity, that unites us than divides us but we need to approach life with an open mind and open heart.

The challenge is for us is to think about how we can live this out in Advent this year. In the most basic way Christians believe that God is the source of love and this is everlasting and unconditional. This can inspire and challenge us to act in a loving way in any way we can.

A few questions to consider.

  • What can you do to try to respond in the most loving way even when things are tough?
  • What would it mean to have a growth heart-set for you this year?
  • On the advent journey or over the Christmas period what would it look like to give the gift of love to those around you?

I hope and pray that all of you have a peaceful, prayerful and happy Advent journey and that all of us can simply open our hearts to one another and God’s plan for all of us.

God bless.

Will you be a builder?

What will you do to build the Kingdom of God?

We are challenged to meet the young people we serve where they are in their life. We have to find a way to engage with them and walk with them whatever is going on. It is maybe simple and easy to get along with each other when the sun shines on life but it is more challenging when we face turbulent waters.

Rather than looking to focus on the current Gospel readings I am aiming to look at building on the themes of a talk we had on the spiritual life and Catholic faith of the school. We were engaged and inspired by James Kibble, a great friend of mine, who is Head of Salesian School in Chertsey.

James challenged us to think about different aspects of living out our ethos and posed seven questions. The first is – “How will we build community with God present?”

St Paul himself knew all about conflict and community, at times having to make a sharp exit when he had upset people! He does, however, talk a lot about love and faith both of which provide important ingredients for our school community and church as “God’s chosen people”.

If you can take two minutes to read the reflection below it will challenge us to think about the deeper purpose of what we do.

  • What can we do to build up our community not by grand gestures but by the small actions we do each day?
  • How can we recognise the potential in those around us and value them and what they bring to us?
  • What can we do to help our community grow and flourish in the days and years ahead? What will be your legacy personally?

Prophets of a future not our own

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. 

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own. 

______________

This prayer was first presented by Cardinal Dearden in 1979 and quoted by Pope Francis in 2015 and often attributed to the leadership of Saint Oscar Romero

This reflection is an excerpt from a homily written for Cardinal Dearden by then-Fr. Ken Untener on the occasion of the Mass for Deceased Priests, October 25, 1979. Pope Francis quoted Cardinal Dearden in his remarks to the Roman Curia on December 21, 2015. Fr. Untener was named bishop of Saginaw, Michigan, in 1980.

Getting ready for change…

In the current Gospel readings we are challenged to think about how we will be ready for Jesus to come into the world. 

In the Gospel account Jesus says “In those days after the time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven.” It as an apocalyptic scene where we are challenged to think of the end of the world and judgement. Later in the same reading Jesus talks of the fig tree and recognising when it flowers that summer is near… perhaps a gentler image!

It makes me think about a few things…

  • What can we do to read the signs of the times and recognise when things change in our lives?
  • What does it mean for us to judged or accountable at the end of our lives or the end of time?
  • How can we live our lives in a way that we are ready to meet God face to face?
  • What can we do to be ready to welcome Jesus into our lives in a fresh and new way during our advent journey?

Ultimately this is part of what I believe we are doing… we can easily be lured into the Christmas hustle and bustle or our old routines with watching the latest festive advert – even if it came out before December has even begun! We are challenged to think in a far deeper to spot how we can prepare to welcome Jesus in a real and present way into our lives.

If we can do this the journey of advent will be a real gift to us and help us grow in our love and understanding of each other and God – perhaps the greatest gift I could imagine…

God bless.

What do you give?

iran gold coin afp.jpg

In the Gospel account this week we hear how Jesus watched as people handed in money to the treasury. The rich giving a great amount, sometimes perhaps with much fanfare and ensuring everyone noticed. He also saw a poor widow hand in two small coins that were worth very little, in reality she was giving all she had.

This is the reality of where the theme for this week comes from. We are asked to recognise that sometimes we can hold back and not give everything to what we do or actually to God.

Even if it is very little, if we give all we can to something there is something deeply satisfying about it. When we hold back we always know in our heart of hearts that we gave what we wanted to and have the lingering question “what could have been different if I gave it my all?”

We can also recognise this week the commitments that people have made to us. It is with gratitude that we can recognise the gifts God has given each of us to use to the full, the love of those who care for us and the satisfaction of finding something in life that fulfils us.

A few thoughts for the week ahead;

  • What can we do to use our talents to the full and not hold something back?
  • How can we be grateful for those who make commitments to us to enable us to do what we do?
  • What is it in giving everything that we find fulfilling?

I truly believe that we give all we have to something it takes on a deeper meaning than just something on our “to do list” – we are giving of ourselves. God challenges us to try to give all we have in our lives and although this might be challenging at times I truly believe this is when we get great “riches and rewards” from what we have done.

God bless.