Tag Archives: faith

Be the change you wish to see in the world…

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We need to “be the change we wish to see in the world”. This week after the horrific scenes in Manchester we need to have a shared commitment to live with love, compassion and forgiveness. If people look to drive us apart, accentuate our differences and conflict we have a chance to move closer together instead.

As we celebrate today the Feast of the Ascension we remember Jesus is not leaving us alone but saying, “I will always be with you” and reassuring us that the Holy Spirit, the power of God in the world, will always be with us.

In times of tragedy or suffering we need to trust in God to heal the hurt, division and distrust.

We pray today for our leaders to use love as the most powerful weapon to destroy hate and terror.

We pray for all the innocent victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester and their families. May God comfort them in their suffering and angush.

We pray for those vulnerable in society to being led towards violence and hatred in the world. May God give them strength to listen to His voice within them to do good and reject evil.

We pray that we can live our lives full of faith, hope and love.

God bless.

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I am proud to be Catholic and proud of the example of Pope Francis #thisismypope. This week he spoke these words in Mass to all of us.

“You can have defects, be anxious and live irritated sometimes, but do not forget that your life is the biggest company in the world.

Only you can prevent her from going into decline.
There are many who appreciate you, admire you and love you.

I would like you to remember that to be happy, is not to have a sky without storms, road without accidents, works without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.

To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the box of fear, love in disagreements.

Being happy is not only valuing the smile, but also reflecting on sadness.
It is not just to commemorate success, but to learn lessons in failures.
It is not just to have joy with applause, but to have joy in anonymity.

To be happy is to recognize that life is worth living, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings, and periods of crisis.

Being happy is not a fatality of destiny, but a conquest for those who know how to travel within their own being.

To be happy is to stop being a victim of problems and become an actor in one’s own history.
It is to cross deserts out of itself, but to be able to find an oasis in the recesses of our soul.
It is to thank God every morning for the miracle of life.

Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings.
It is knowing how to talk about yourself.
It is courage to hear a “no”.
It is safe to receive criticism, even if it is unfair.
It is to kiss the children, to pamper parents, to have poetic moments with friends, even if they hurt us.

To be happy is to let the free, happy and simple creature live within each one of us.
It is to have maturity to say ‘I was wrong’.
It is to have the audacity to say *forgive me*.
It is to have sensitivity to express *’I need you’*.
It is to be able to say * ‘I love you’ *.

May your life become a garden of opportunity to be happy …
May you be joyous in your spring.
In your winter you are friend of wisdom.
And when you get in the way, start all over again.
Then you will be more passionate about life.
And you will discover that to be happy is not to have a perfect life.
But use tears to water the tolerance.
Use the losses to refine the patience.
Use flaws to sculpt serenity.
Use pain lapping pleasure.
Use obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.
Never give up ….
Never give up on the people you love.
Never give up being happy, because life is a must-see! “

Pope Francis

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On the road together

the-emmaus-road-a-chiasm-in-luke.jpgIn this week’s Gospel account we hear about the followers of Jesus meeting a stranger on the road to Emmaus. They were heading downhearted from Jerusalem having seen Jesus crucified and defeated, on one level they were walking away from their faith, hopes and dreams for the future. On the journey they were joined by a mysterious stranger walking alongside them who made their hearts “burn”. In the breaking of bread at the meal they finally recognised Christ amongst them.

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I think this is a great Gospel account in this time of Easter and resurrection. It makes me think of how we can sometimes walk through life blind to the fact that Jesus has walked alongside us. At other times maybe we need to be open to the fact that we can find God with us in those who walk alongside us in life’s journey.

A few thoughts for the week ahead…

  • How can we be full of faith even when the situation may be hopeless?
  • Where can we find Jesus alongside us day to day?
  • How can we encounter God in those we meet day to day and at times be God’s presence to others?

I hope this week that we can all find a small way to encounter God on the journey ahead of us. With hope and faith we too can be people of resurrection and light.

 

Witness – a living faith

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We continue to hear about how Jesus seeks outs opportunities to heal those left marginalised in society. In society at the time there was a direct correlation between suffering and sin. When Jesus heals the blind man this week we can see he makes him “whole again” by healing him and challenging the suffering and prejudices he faced. Once he is healed the blind man is summoned back to bear witness to what Jesus had done ending in him being driven away by the authorities. You can feel the rising pressure and plotting for Jesus’ downfall during this time getting us ready for His entry into Jerusalem and the sacrifice of his crucifixion.

We at times can fall into a trap where we are quick to judge others and cast them aside. We can be tempted to ignore the needs of others, particularly when we are under pressure from others.

A few thoughts for this week…

  • How can you offer an unconditional love, forgiveness and support of others?
  • What do we find difficult to bear witness to in our lives?
  • How would we have responded to the blind man? Would we have walked towards him or away from him?
  • Do we have a heart for justice, peace and equality?

For me in a basic and simple way my faith is about the challenge to live it out in the everyday moments and interactions each day. We need to ask God to give us the wisdom and bravery to do the right thing, even if it is not the popular thing, even if it goes unnoticed or is un-popular.

So stand strong, stand proud and ask God to give us the bravery and confidence to bear witness in the world today.

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Are you listening carefully?

listen.jpgSometimes we fill our lives with noise, conversation and action. I enjoy the vibrancy of a “bit of chat” and like being part of a school community and a big family which always have plenty going on.

When I was growing up I had to learn to be “comfortable” in my own company. When my wife or children were away I’d fill the time with socialising and spending time being fed by and catching up with friends. I now have learnt to cherish the opportunity to just simply stop and “be”…

In the Gospel reading this week we hear about the account of the Transfiguration where Jesus is revealed to a few of His disciples as they prayed on the mountain top with Him. They suddenly saw Jesus in a new light… transformed in some way. They heard the voice of God saying, “This is my Son, listen to Him!”.

Was Jesus changing how He looked or appeared to them or in essence was it rooted in their ability “to see” His true identity and listen to God’s voice speak to them in a meaningful way?

Maybe in Lent this is where the challenge lies for us. Can we find the time to stop and really listen to the “still small voice of calm” that can help us hear God’s call and plan to us? Sometimes we need to declutter our lives enough from the noise around us to be able to really hear in a deeper and truer way.

A few thoughts for the week ahead.

  • Can you find a short moment each day to find a sense of peace and tranquility?
  • Could this become a habit to give you time to think and pray in some way?
  • How can we hear God’s call to us and respond in some way?

So I give thanks for the opportunity to listen attentively and I promise to look to practice it in my relationships and to try to be more prayerful in what I do each day.

A special prayer of gratitude for the gifts and talents of our wonderful students and staff as we celebrate our school production of Billy Elliot. I am sure it will be fantastic and I will enjoy the privilege of being there each night. I know you will do us all proud!

God bless.

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Will you make your mark on the world?

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In education we are challenged to never give up and offer hope in even the most challenging situations. We are also given wonderful opportunities to let every students’ light shine.

The most rewarding part of working with young people is the vitality, energy and progress you can see. We have an opportunity to transform a person’s life by showing belief, inspiration, love and care. We have been given the enormous responsibility of having the power of words to build someone up or knock them down – we remember to use these words preciously.

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In a world with challenges and uncertainty education can be “the glue that holds” society together. I once taught a boy, George, who was in foster care and had been placed in over 14 families – they ran out of placements in the city when each came off the rails and were looking to move him to a residential school in a different part of the country. I urged us to find any way to keep the one part of his life consistent whatever challenges were there outside of school. We needed to be the family he never had.

 

This week in the Gospel we hear how Jesus says we are “the salt of the earth… and light of the world”. So what does this challenge us to think about?

  • How can we add flavour to life? Without salt our food would be without variety and taste. There is a great joy in the variety to life, our God-given talents and gifts bring joy to life. Let’s celerate this diversity and difference as well as cherishing all that binds us together.
  • Let our light shine… we need to find ways to be full of light, life and hope. We should find ways to ensure faith can shine out and bring light in times of darkness.

I am proud to say that in our school community this challenge lies at the heart of what we look to achieve each and every day. Thank you for being a part of it in whatever you do.

God bless.

 

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A time to change??

what-is-conversion_833_460_80_c1.jpgWhen we think about conversion in an educational sense we would normally think of a few key examples;

  • converting grades to the right outcomes
  • converting behaviours or attitudes to make a change
  • converting a relationship that needs to be changed…

This may tell us something of change and transformation but this week is the feast of the conversion of St Paul, our patron Saint. He had a pretty dramatic change in his life which can make us think more deeply about our faith and life.

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St Paul was originally Saul of Tarsus and he lived a life dedicated to persecuting the early Christian church including being involved in the stoning to death of St Stephen. He was sent from Jerusalem to Damascus to arrest and return with the Christians he captured.

It was on this journey to persecute the Christian community that he actually found Christ in probably the most dramatic conversion. He was “blinded by faith” and heard Jesus call him to a very different life as one of His disciples. We now talk about having a “road to Damascus experience” where we can see something from a fresh perspective or with a new pair of eyes.

His conversion was so dramatic that Saul was to start his life afresh as Paul and become one of the founding fathers of the Christian Church. He was to go on to travel relentlessly to spread the Good News.

So what can we take from this account today…

  • How can you be open to being changed for the good in your life?
  • How can faith bring new light to your life?
  • Will you be attentive to God’s call for you and be willing to respond?
  • What can you do to spread the Good News today?

Far from feeling that St Paul represents a failed image of discipleship or faith I love his simple humanity. We can all see that at times we may sometimes be headed in the wrong direction, perhaps not as dramatically as he was, but if we are open to God’s plan for us we too can be disciples and bring faith to those we meet.

So say a prayer this Thursday, 26th January, that we too will be transformed by the light of faith and converted too.

 

God bless.

A New Beginning in 2017

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Welcome back in 2017… I hope you have had a happy, peaceful and restful Christmas. Sometimes doing the simplest things are the most important – having time to stop and think, being with those we love and having a time for reflection and prayer. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to do things that are most important to you.

Many people would have stayed up to welcome in the New Year by hearing the chimes of Big Ben here in the UK. There were many people who noted some of the challenges of 2016 ranging from some of our heroes passing away to turbulent politics around the world. So maybe there is an extra feeling of anticipation for the year ahead and a hope it will be a really good one.

In the account of the Nativity we hear two different Gospel stories portrayed as one. Luke’s Gospel tells us of the visit of the shepherds telling us that Jesus had come for all people, rich and poor, Gentile and Jews. In the other account from Matthew’s Gospel we hear of the visit of the Magi or Wise Men. This was written for a Jewish audience telling them that the long-awaited Messiah had been born.

The three Kings (Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar) represented Europe, Arabia and Africa respectively. The word epiphany comes from the Greek word and means “manifestation”. It celebrates that God had been revealed to us in the person of Jesus.

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The gifts they brought were symbolic of the importance of Jesus’ birth, the gold representing his royal standing; frankincense his divine birth; and myrrh his mortality.

So what can we take from these Gospel accounts at the start of this new year?

  • We need to remember how God chose to be revealed to us in the humblest of surroundings, a displaced migrant family who were soon to have to flee their home due to being under threat.
  • We can take the opportunity to seek out the “light of faith” and follow the star like the wise men as they traveled towards Christ following their faith.
  • At the start of the new year perhaps we can make the commitment to deepen our faith and seek out justice in the world around us this year.

In a very basic way if we are part of a Christian community we are called to make a positive difference to the world around us and this is my hope for the year ahead even if we can all aim to do this in the simplest actions each day.

Can I take this opportunity to offer you a happy, fulfilling and successful 2017 – let’s embrace the opportunities ahead of us every day at a time.

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