Tag Archives: hope

We are one body…

It seems like we are living in a divided and troubled world.

We have shared a minutes silence more often in the last 4 weeks than I remember in twenty years of being a teacher. We have witnessed the horrific Grenfell Tower fire with such tragic loss of life and continued extremism and terrorist attacks, the latest at Finsbury Park Mosque.

This is combined with a country divided by the election, the start of Brexit negotiations and a Government formed on a deal with a small group of politicians never before at the heart of the political system. I was proud to see the alternative speech written by a fellow Headteacher, John Tomsett, in the days following the election. Well worth a read – if only politicians could show brave leadership and integrity at the times it is most needed.

In all of this unease and confusion we need to strive to find Christ among us. We can see this in the goodness of human action in responding to challenge and tragedy. God is good and God is love. This is what we need to see shining through even in the darkest times.

The Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, marks how we invite Jesus into our lives in the sacrament of the Eucharist or Communion. He is truly present in this moment. It also prompts me to consider how we can be “in communion with one another”.

So perhaps we can do a few small things this week;

  • Look to find the goodness in humanity
  • Be able to offer light and hope in some small way to others we encounter each day
  • Stop for a minute to give thanks to God for all we are blessed with – our safety, our homes, our food, our faith…

I hope and pray that we can all be part of one body, one community to enrich the gift of life that God gave us all.

God bless.

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A still small voice of calm…

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All of us need calm and tranquility somewhere in our lives. A sense that we can find a time to stop, even for a short moment, to find an inner peace that grounds us in some basic way.

This week we have celebrated the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, that reminds us of God’s presence amongst us in the world and the challenge we have been given to live out faith inspired by the life of Christ. As the Holy Spirit is not visible, physically, it is often represented by wind, fire or a dove. It may help us to have something tangible to think about and represent the power of God.

All of us have been shocked and horrified by the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester and mourn the innocent loss of life. Sometimes we can only understand it fully by thinking of our families, our children, us being in the same position. It can make it more real to us rather than just the latest images on 24hr news. The challenge is  for us to use this time of darkness to bring greater light and hope.

We live in a democracy and as we prepare for our general election this week we need to make a commitment to not relying on tabloid headlines that divide us or breed distrust or hatred. We need instead to make a renewed commitment to tolerance, understanding and unity in all that we do.

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Working in education we are privileged to have the opportunity to transform the lives and futures of every young person in our care. This is a gift but also a great responsibility. Let us grasp this opportunity to make a real difference in all we do.

When we find ourselves challenged by all that happens around us this is an opportunity to ask for God to be with us – “come Holy Spirit”. Rather than disbelief I hope and pray to find God in the love, compassion, care and selflessness of people who reach out and act with such loving kindness.

A few questions for the week ahead;

  • What can you do to encourage love, tolerance and understanding when faced by the challenges we see in the world?
  • How can we use the gift of education to transform people’s hearts and minds and build a better future?
  • How can we feel the presence of God amongst us as we think about the power of the Holy Spirit?

Thank you, in advance, for all you will do this half term to make St Paul’s a place of vitality, happiness, light and hope.
God bless.

 

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

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.

 

What are we thirsting for?

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We have all felt the feeling of being desperate for the opportunity to quench our thirst. In an attempt to live a more healthy lifestyle I do not drink (well an alcoholic drink to be more precise!) during the week. In a very basic way this has been a good discipline but I also find that I appreciate it more when I can indulge a little… 

In the theme of this week we look at the theme of thirst. In the Gospel reading we hear the account of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well. The story is significant on a number of levels.

  • It would be socially unacceptable for a man to speak to an unaccompanied woman at the Well.
  • The woman was a Samaritan who were the enemies of the Jewish race.
  • Jesus was directly challenging these assumptions and prejudices.
  • Jesus could see the true person and had the ability to really know the depths of her life story, warts and all.
  • This brief interaction inspired her faith and drew people to follow Jesus.

The deeper meaning of the story is actually asking us about what we really thirst and strive for. We can be satisfied in a very basic way by fulfilling our needs but the joy isn’t very long lasting unless it means something deeper.

So what may we be thirsting for?

  • I thirst for tolerance and understanding – this week we had a great opportunity to do just this by supporting Downs Syndrome Awareness where our school community, staff and students, wore odd socks to celebrate difference and simply raise awareness. Another inspiring example was Mélainie in France as she presented the weather to fulfil her dream.
  • I thirst for justice and peace – this afternoon in London it is emerging that an awful terrorist attack has taken place at the heart of our capital city. This only causes fear and division. We need to use the power of education to transform the divisions, hatred and violence we find in the world.
  • I thirst for faith – if we are truly to allow our faith to flourish we need to nourish it to the full. This takes time, energy and needs light and water.

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So let us walk together to have a shared thirst to seek out faith, hope in love in our lives and inspire this in those we meet. As a community of faith we are challenged to  become a beacon of life, light and hope. What will you do this week to live this out in a small way?

God bless.

Temptation and love of others…

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The theme of this week for us in school is temptation…. it builds on the Gospel of Jesus in the desert and wilderness. We of course are all tempted to live in the moment or act in a way that is in our self-interest and feed our “basic instinct” in some way.

Do we hold back and appreciate what we really have? The clip below may put you off your favourite Italian dish for a while…

Ultimately we, as humans, have the ability to make decisions informed by our conscience. We can aspire to look to act in a less selfish way. For me sin is really a distance from God or making a choice that is selfish rather than selfless.

This Lent we can challenge ourselves to “go into the desert” and look to reconnect with our faith. We can take the journey back to God by taking the time to think about how we can feed and nurture our faith.

We are called to do three things;

  • Find time for prayer
  • Look to focus on almsgiving where we commit to charity and care of others
  • Being able to “fast” and deny our own needs to care for others

Tomorrow is CAFOD Fast Day so let us pray for a world of justice, hope and solidarity with those in need. Let’s keep the faith…

God Bless.

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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