21/7/2021 In Haiti, we have a concept called konbit: a gathering with a shared goal. Members of a community come together to accomplish something that benefits the entire community, or a single person in need. Konbits initially began in agriculture. “Today I work your field, tomorrow you work mine,” the Haitian novelist Jacques Roumain wrote of konbits. . . . How do we define community in a time of crisis, which is in many ways what community is for? We don’t need our neighbours as much when we are healthy and wealthy and can pay for all the assistance we require. Edwidge Danticat
20/7/2021 Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is not about preserving the status quo! It’s about living here on earth as if the Reign of God has already begun (see Luke 17:21). In this Reign, the Sermon tells us, the poor are blessed, the hungry are filled, the grieving are filled with joy, and enemies are loved.
Meditation – a simple guide
There is no single way to meditate. There are, however, certain acts and attitudes inherently endowed with the capacity to awaken sustained states of meditative awareness. . . .
With respect to the body: Sit still. Sit straight. Place your hands in a comfortable or meaningful position in your lap. Close your eyes or lower them toward the ground. Breathe slowly and naturally. With respect to your mind, be present, open, and awake, neither clinging to nor rejecting anything. And with respect to attitude, maintain nonjudgmental compassion toward yourself as you discover yourself clinging to and rejecting everything, and nonjudgmental compassion toward others. . . .
Keep in mind that these guidelines are but suggestions for you to explore as part of your ongoing process of finding the ways to meditate that are most natural and effective for you. What matters is not which method of meditation you use, but the self-transforming process by which meditation leads you into more . . . openness to God. . . .
Go to your place of meditation. . . . You might say a brief and simple prayer expressing your gratitude to God for having been led to the path of meditation and asking for the wisdom, courage, and strength to be faithful to it. . . .
[Then] let go of all that is preoccupying you at the moment. Choose to be present in the immediacy of the present moment by simply relaxing into being right where you are, just as you are. Settle into the intimate, felt sense of your bodily stillness. Settle into being aware of your breathing and whatever degree of fatigue or wakefulness you may be feeling in your body at the moment. Be aware of whatever sadness, inner peace, or other emotion may be present. Be aware of the light and the temperature in the room where you are sitting. In short, simply be present, just as you are, in the moment, just as it is. Cling to nothing. Reject nothing. Rest in this moment. . . . Relax. Give yourself a break. Simply sit in a “Here I am, Lord” stance. . . . Know and trust that God is already perfectly present in your simply being alive and real in the present moment just as it is. . . .
Be humbled and grateful in knowing that you are learning to awaken to your true nature in learning to be like God. . . . Jesus said, “Judge not and you shall not be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Sitting in meditation, we put this teaching of Christ into practice in remaining present, open, and awake to ourselves just as we are, without judging, without evaluating, without clinging to or rejecting the way we simply are.James Finley, Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence
The Quarantine Quatrains click to reveal
Life in lockdown
As most of the UK is now in a renewed lockdown, you may find this prayer exercise helpful.
This is a prayer to help me reflect on how I’m living in lock-down and how I might live more fully for the remainder of this time. To do this, I imagine myself with Jesus, looking back over lock-down so far. Then, after looking back, Jesus and I talk about the time of lock-down yet to be lived. Together, we imagine this time so that I might live it to the full and with a deep trust in God’s plans for a future full of hope for me.
The Spirituality Committee of the Bishops’ Conference has been reflecting on how best to support and sustain a person’s prayer life at this challenging time – particularly those who may not have easy access to the internet or streaming services. The Committee has looked to the psalms as the inspiration for its new resource.
Responding to the Psalms is a simple initiative that takes a Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm – an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word – and invites and encourages further reflection on each verse.
Short questions are provided to encourage deeper thought on the verse for a few days or so before the focus moves on to the psalm’s next verse. Once each verse has been considered, we arrive at the next Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm.
The aim is that this will sustain people throughout the week.
Responding to the Psalms is intended to be used by individuals and small groups. Click below for the psalms and questions.
Information about what is available to support your faith and prayer life around the Diocese
2/6/2020 Blessings – a meditative few moments
29/5/2020 Vigil prayer
The Ignatian Family in a Worldwide Prayer Vigil
On Sunday 31st of May the universal Church will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit not only transforms the lives of the disciples into apostles, it brings the Church to birth and sends it out to all nations, overcoming divisions of language, race, class. The Spirit gathers us, whatever our state or condition, into the new community of Christ. Our lives and our world are restored and renewed.
In these past months we all have experienced the devastation of COVID-19. It has shown how vulnerable we are, how precarious our systems and limited our resources. We have also seen the great generosity and courage that can fill the human heart as so many risk their own life care and save the lives of others. Even in the small acts of kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness we glimpse something greater than we had thought possible. These moments are the ‘epiphanies of the Spirit’; the candles of love that light up the darkness and guide us into hope.
What better way to seek the gift and power of the Holy Spirit than as a world-wide community of prayer? Click button below for details of how to access.
29/5/2020 Preparing for Pentecost
‘Rise Within Us – The Coming Of The Spirit’ is an uplifting song for Pentecost performed by the Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir. It’s a ‘Sung Scripture’, which uses a well-known song as a basis, and ad lib singing of the relevant scripture in the gaps.
Performers are being creative in lockdown, as we’ve seen over the past eight weeks, and this high quality arrangement was put together using material from 25 performers singing separately into smartphones at home.
The song is dedicated to the prisoners and staff at HMP Wandsworth.
‘Rise Within Us’ lyrics and music by Aaron Lindsay and Israel Houghton, from 2004 live album “Live From Another Level”, Israel & New Breed; additional lyrics by Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir, based on Acts 2, sung ad lib.
As the important Solemnity of Pentecost approaches, the Cardinal assures you that he holds you in his prayer. He has sent us a message. In it, he reflects on the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, particularly in the context of the circumstances in which we are living at the moment.
The video is available online at https://vimeo.com/421046273
Thy Kingdom Come 2020 – Ascension to Pentecost
“God is not in lockdown” said Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby at the live launch of Thy Kingdom Come 2020 celebrated in prayer with Archbishop Sentamu and Cardinal Vincent this morning. The video is available to view athttps://tkc.new/livelink.
Cardinal Vincent spoke of the richness of these days; a time of waiting, trusting and not-knowing that resonates with the experience of many people in these strange and difficult times. He stressed the importance of the gifts of gratitude, joy and service that hold Christians of all denominations together and prayed for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see the gifts we are given and to use them in the field of our world.
The Archbishops spoke of the importance of praying together, as families, as church communities and as inter-denominational communities. There are many excellent resources available at www.thykingdomcome.global
In Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire the Thy Kingdom Come Ecumenical Planning Group has put together a programme starting with a launch event this evening and including daily prayers from Regional Church Leaders, including our own Bishop Paul on Wednesday. There are family prayers and resources and daily evening reflections. There will be a Beacon celebration posted on Pentecost Sunday. A full programme, with YouTube links, is available at www.stalbans.anglican.org/faith/thy-kingdom-come/
‘The Prayer and Care: ideas for families’ can be found atwww.stalbans.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/Prayer_and_Care_Family_TKC2020.pdf
Jesuit prayer support for Ascension and Pentecost
We keep in prayer all those working to fight the pandemic and all those grieving the loss of loved ones. We also pray for the families you serve, as they learn new ways of living as the domestic church.
Ascension and Pentecost
Ascension and Pentecost are the two great feasts that signal the end of the Easter season. Celebrate using these ideas from Loyola Press.
Fr Stephen Wang is live streaming each day at the ‘Pause for Faith’ YouTube channel, where you can
also see a library of recent videos. It’s an informal look at different aspects of our Catholic faith.
Themes include how to pray, the lives of the saints, faith formation, coping with lockdown, and a
new series of talks about ‘What Christians believe in 100 objects’. Please share the link below with
anyone who might be looking for some inspiration and spiritual support during the lockdown.
YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/c/PauseforFaith
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: @pauseforfaith
Please include these prayer intentions from the Churches together in Hitchin in your prayers at the appropriate times.
A letter sent to cloistered nuns which as Cardinal Vincent says ‘…. is reflective, sensitive, with a true ‘interiority’ in its themes. I found that it touched me quite deeply. It is simply an offering at a difficult time.’
Emmaus Road reflection by Reverend Charmaine Sabey-Corkindale
A reflection with art. Click below
Pray as You Stay https://pray-as-you-go.org/
Mental Health audio prayer guides: https://pray-as-you-go.org/retreat/mental-health-awareness
Pray As You Stay mini series: https://pray-as-you-go.org/retreat/pray-as-you-stay
Kids Examen during lockdown: https://pray-as-you-go.org/player/prayer%20tools/aspecialexamenforchildren
Family Examen during lockdown: https://pray-as-you-go.org/player/prayer%20tools/anexamenforthefamily
PAYG Rosary Reflections: https://pray-as-you-go.org/article/rosary-reflections
Extract from message from Cardinal Vincent to the Priests of the Diocese
With these few words I really want to thank you all for the efforts of the last two weeks. I thank all of you who have been able to live stream the regular celebration of Mass and the Holy Week ceremonies. There is widespread feedback of how much this is appreciated and how extensively taken up. Many have expressed gratitude for the consolation and encouragement they have received and how this is contributing not only to a continuing practice of the faith but also a deepening of some of its important aspects. Participation figures from churchservices.tv are remarkable! Thank you all very much!
Most importantly, I wish to thank every one of you who do not have the facility to live stream and the virtual congregation that it brings, yet remain quietly faithful to the daily celebration of Mass on your own, especially in an empty church. This is an act of our ministry and of our interior dedication which can be difficult to maintain. Yet it is of immense value. In these circumstances we miss the visible presence of the faithful and the encouragement and, often, the inspiration they give us. We know, as they do, the infinite value of the Mass itself. We cling to the knowledge that at every Mass the angels and saints are with us. By celebrating Mass we make real the great prayer of Jesus and we become part of his constant pleading for the world before the Father. How much we need that pray right now! So I thank you for your fidelity and offer you every encouragement in sustaining this life-giving daily offering.
Also the Cardinal wanted us to know about an on-line retreat which begins tomorrow evening.
Prayer materials for Holy week
From the Jesuits in Britain
Palm Sunday Palm Sunday Yr A r1
Holy Week prayer with the 5 senses Holy Week 2020 Praying with our 5 senses
From Ten:Ten for children on Thursday – Mass of the Last supper gospel click below picture
Worshipping with the Communion of Saints As we try to make our way through this worldwide pandemic, we’re learning new ways of being together while trying to stay physically apart. This situation affects all aspects of our lives, including the way we worship. As we approach the days of Easter Triduum,
Led by LGBT+Catholics Westminster by Zoom on Good Friday
Many Catholic newspapers are now available on line. Click here for details: http://www.churchpaper.co.uk/
Accessing live stream Masses
Resources to support your prayer life at this time
From St Mark’s church – ideas for craft activities for Easter
Ten Ten has decided to make freely available our Collective Worship resources to all schools and their families. We have created a new series of resources called Prayers for Home, which include:
Sunday Liturgy for Families
We will continue to create original resources for families throughout the Easter holidays and beyond during this uncertain time for teachers, children and their families. Click below the picture for the Last Supper.
From the Diocese
CAFOD have downloadable children’s liturgy resources available for most Sundays throughout the year.
CAFOD are hosting a live online children’s liturgy for families, on Sundays at 10am.
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
There are websites to support you in prayer. The Jesuit website Pray As You Go is wonderfulhttps://pray-as-you-go.org/Sacred Space, the website of the Irish Jesuits is also beautiful and offers currently a Lent retreat.
Prayers and positive readings
This beautiful prayer was written by an Italian priest who is self-isolating at the moment and very sadly lost his own brother a few days ago to Covid-19…
I’m staying at home, Lord!
I’m staying at home, Lord! And today, I realise, you taught me this, remaining obedient to the Father, for thirty years in the house of Nazareth, waiting for the great mission.
I stay at home, Lord, and in Joseph’s studio, your keeper and mine, I learn to work, to obey, to round the corners of my life and prepare you a work of art.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And I know that I am not alone because Mary, like any mother, is in the next room, doing chores and preparing lunch for all of us, God’s family.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And I do it responsibly for my own good, for the health of my city, for my loved ones, and for the good of my brother, whom you have put beside me, asking me to take care of him in the garden of life.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And in the silence of Nazareth, I pledge to pray, to read, study, meditate, be useful for small jobs, in order to make our home more beautiful and more welcoming.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And in the morning, I thank you for the new day you give me, trying not to spoil it and welcome it with wonder, as a gift and an Easter surprise.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And at noon I will receive the greeting of the angel, I will make myself useful for love, in communion with you who have made you flesh to live among us; and, tired of the journey, thirsty, I will meet you at Jacob’s well, and thirsty for love on the Cross.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And if the evening takes me melancholy, I will invoke you like the disciples of Emmaus: stay with us, the evening has arrived and the sun sets.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And in the night, in communion of prayer with the many sick, the lonely and all the caregivers, I will wait for the dawn to sing your mercy again and tell everyone that, in the storms, you have been my refuge.
I’m staying at home, Lord! And I don’t feel alone and abandoned, because you told me: I’m with you every day. yes, and especially in these days of confusion, O Lord, in which, if my presence is not necessary, I will reach everyone, only with the wings of prayer.
Churches Together in England have released the following statement
As our nation faces the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, Churches Together in England (CTE) is encouraging Christians across our nations to continue uniting in prayer, praying #PrayersOfHope in their homes at 7.00 pm each Sunday evening.
Following the overwhelming response which the National Call to Prayer and Action received on Mothering Sunday, CTE has prepared a candle poster for those who would like to place a permanent symbol in their front windows of Christ’s light shining in the darkness. Visit www.cte.org.uk/prayersofhope
This poster has been made available due to our awareness of the potential fire risk posed by lighting live candles, particularly on windowsills. We are keen to avoid adding any pressure to our emergency service personnel, particularly at this difficult time.
‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ John 1:5
Please join us prayer at this challenging time.
26/3/2020 From Jonathan Bryan author of EYE CAN WRITE
Finding words to describe the condition that has had the most impact on my life is difficult, so when CP Teens asked me to be one of their faces for cerebral palsy month I decided to portray cerebral palsy as a monster.
At the moment we are facing a monster as a nation with this insidious virus and I am aware that for those already living with the occupying forces of cerebral palsy our defences are weakened to further attacks. I am praying for all my friends.
But I am also praying for everyone who is gripped by fear, because fear is far more dangerous. Fear doesn’t just threaten our physical health, it monopolizes our mental health and paths the way to selfishness. Perfect love drives out fear. So every day I pray to Love Himself and am filled with gratitude – there is so much to be thankful for. Every day I will post on Twitter what I am thankful for.
25/3/2020 Thank you to Caroline for sharing this prayer with us
A prayer from Cheryl, our parish administrator’s granddaughter.
Click here for Prayer when confined to your home
Lockdown by Richard Hendrick (Brother Richard), a Capuchin Franciscan priest-friar in Ireland
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
–Lynn Ungar 11/3/20