Tag Archives: unity

The chosen people…

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This week we have the theme of Church as a focus in our school community. In a very simplistic way we probably think immediately of a variety of Church buildings or experiences we have had.

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In essence this may be missing the point. The Church is actually God’s “chosen people” – a community responding to the call of faith to come and worship together. In the photograph of the brick wall we can see the different shapes, colours and textures of every brick which are unique and different, yet together they make the one wall bound together to make something which is greater in some way.

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Some of my best experiences of being part of the Church have come in unusual surroundings ranging from celebrating Mass in a railway carriage on the way back from pilgrimage in Lourdes to gathering under a tree in Zimbabwe and sharing the Gospel with a community in a rural village awaiting a priest (who never turned up!). The word Catholic means universal or worldwide and it is a great joy that wherever you go in the world you belong to part of the community, even if we don’t understand the language we can engage with the faith we share.

The world feels at times troubled and divided facing great challenges in tragedy, terrorism and political division. However, I feel so blessed as I have the perfect tonic to recover my belief in humanity, faith, life and hope. I have the joy of walking into a vibrant school community each day. Being surrounded by young people (and staff!) so full of vitality, joy, energy and positivity brings joy to my heart.

This week we celebrate our Patron Saint’s Day as we celebrate the feast of St Peter and St Paul. This culminates for us on a day on Friday full of fundraising, activities and time celebrating all that is best in our school.

A few thoughts for the week ahead;

  • How can we build up the strength of the Church community?
  • What can we do to celebrate the diversity and difference we find in our communities?
  • How can we ensure we continue to see light and hope even in times of challenge and conflict?

So in advance thank you for making St Paul’s such a special community that I am so proud of because in essence #thisismychurch!

God bless.

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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.

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.

 

One step at a time…

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Last week we reflected on the theme of “chosen” recognising that all of us are called to do something definite. God has created us for a purpose and one aspect of us exploring the journey in life is finding out who we really are…

This week is dedicated to Christian unity and has prompted me to reflect on peace.

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Pope Francis taught this in his prayer for the world day of peace teaching that we need a “non-violence style of politics”. He highlighted how we need to move to a new era of peace in our lives and relationships. He taught that “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”. We are truly blessed to have a man of such integrity and humility leading the Catholic community worldwide today. He seems a voice of calm in a world crowded by the conflict that can divide us. I have included a summary of his prayer and reflection below.

Christians are called to find opportunities to grow closer together rather than focus on differences that may divide us, personally or collectively, through the divisions of history. This week seems particularly important as we witness the inauguration of a new President in the USA. On one level why should the rest of the world take notice? It has been impossible not to… what will life be like with the UK breaking away from Europe and the most powerful nation worldwide being led by Donald Trump?

brick.jpgI think it is up to us to create the culture and communities that we want to live in… we can start by bringing love and peace to our relationships – to our homes, to our schools, to our churches. When we treat people with love, tolerance and respect it prompts them to show this to others. It is from this small foundation that we can create a better world – one of peace, understanding and tolerance. So let’s try and do it… just one step at a time.

A few thoughts for us;

  • How will we challenge the divisions in the world we live in?
  • What can you do to build peace around you?
  • How can you be inspired by Pope Francis’s words to create peace and unity in 2017?

I hope and pray you find peace in your lives.

God bless.

While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal. […] wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment. […]Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.

To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence. […] When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she clearly stated her own message of active nonviolence: ‘We in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another… And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world.’ […] She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! – of poverty they created. […]The decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence has produced impressive results. The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in combating racial discrimination will never be forgotten. Women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war in Liberia.

Such efforts on behalf of the victims of injustice and violence are not the legacy of the Catholic Church alone, but are typical of many religious traditions, for which “compassion and nonviolence are essential elements pointing to the way of life. I emphatically reaffirm that “no religion is terrorist. Violence profanes the name of God. Let us never tire of repeating: The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war! If violence has its source in the human heart, then it is fundamental that nonviolence be practised before all else within families. This is part of that joy of love which I described last March in my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, in the wake of two years of reflection by the Church on marriage and the family. The family is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.

I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics. I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children. In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”

Pope Francis

What does it mean to be loved?

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The theme of this week is “beloved” which helps us reflect on the Gospel reading from this week which had a focus on the Baptism of Jesus.

What can we take from this and how can it mean something for us today? I think there might be two poignant aspects of this for us.

  • In the Gospel account we hear how Jesus is revealed as the Son of God as God says, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased”… it marked the start of Jesus’ public life and mission and revealed him to the world. His message was full of good news and was for all people rich and poor, young and old, Jews and Gentile. In the turmoil and tragedy of the Paris terrorist attacks of last week maybe this has a renewed meaning for us. For Christians, Muslims and Jews we have a shared tradition, teaching and heritage. It is an important opportunity to focus on this unity rather than highlight division. The Gospel message is of love and forgiveness but we also pray for peace and unity in the world.
  • The other aspect that struck me was what does it mean to “be loved” and chosen in some way. All of us need the affirmation and feeling of being loved in our lives. What can we do living as a community to ensure everyone feels known, loved and cherished in this way every day in some small way? We also are challenged to think about how we are chosen in our lives. What is God’s plan for each and every one of us? One of the joys of teaching and being part of a school community is walking alongside young people as part of this journey of discovery. It is when we find the “right plan for us” that we can feel happy and fulfilled in our life in a meaningful way.

So let us all pause for a moment this week to remember Jesus’ message for all people, especially thinking of the need for love and forgiveness. Let us pray to feel chosen, cherished and loved in our lives and listen to God’s call for us all.

God bless.

Rob

Prayer of St Francis of Assisi

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness only light,
And where there’s sadness ever joy.

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.