Friday, 21 March 2014

Thoughts from our Chaplain: practical prayer!

I was rather pleased that one of the recent reflections in Magnificat (on 14th March) was by the Metropolitan Anthony Bloom.

Anthony belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church and died in 2003. I met him in about 1977 when he was living in London, was known as Archbishop Anthony Bloom and came to Aylesford Priory to give our students and novices a coupe of talks. What remains with me especially, apart from his gentleness and humility, was his holiness. Sanctity seemed to be oozing out of him and it was an absolute privilege to be in his presence.

This reminds me of the colleagues of St Francis saying of him, “Seeing Francis is seeing oratio: prayer in action”. In one of the talks Anthony told us, “Make your prayer practical. I mean, if you are a rather hot tempered individual, don’t get up in the morning and tell God ‘Dear Lord, I will never be angry again’. No instead pray, ‘Dear Lord, I will try not be angry for the next half hour! Say that several times a day and be aware of the Lord’s presence. You will soon notice the enormous difference it makes in your life”.

So here is a great Lenten exercise for you: Attack your predominant fault! What is it: Pride?, Arrogance?, Intolerance?, or one of the key idols: Sex, Power and Wealth? Such an exercise sounds to me much better than giving up a bar of chocolate! Of course doing both is better still!  Have a fruitful Lent.

Fr Piet Wijngaard, O.Carm.  

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Brother Paul, vocations and how you can help

Yesterday, Paul Jenkins was ordained to the diaconate, and it was a really joyful occasion. Paul was ordained by Archbishop Peter Smith, and he spoke movingly about the importance of vocations to the church. The whole celebration was one of hope and thanksgiving, and it was wonderful to celebrate it on the Feast of St Joseph. I pray that Joseph will give courage and help to Paul in his ministry to the church.

As I said in the recent Carmelite News: “The Harvest is great, but the labourers are few. There is wonderful work to be done in spreading the Gospel and all of us are called to be heralds of good news. The Carmelites are called in a special way to be a school of prayer, helping people to relate in an intimate way with God. St Teresa spoke of prayer as having a conversation with God. Besides being praying communities, Carmelites are called to be prophetic;  proclaiming God’s message in and out of season. As Pope Francis has said, we speak to the people on the margins from the margins ourselves. We are called to be in solidarity with those who could be voiceless.”

“I am conscious that my time working for the Lord is limited, and I would like you to join my prayer to ask the Lord to call folk to continue God’s calling  to Carmel. No calling is easy, but we do not answer the call relying on our own resources but open to God’s grace, this is his gift of helping us risk doing something that’s new. I was moved to become a Carmelite because I saw great humanity in those who were living the Carmelite way. The more human we become, the more we are like Jesus Christ who has shown us what it is to be fully human, fully alive.”

THANK YOU to all the supporters of the Shrine of Saint Jude who have made Paul’s special day possible. It is YOUR support, through your donations and prayers, which enable the Carmelites to minister in Britain and beyond. GOD BLESS YOU FOR YOUR KINDNESS. If you would like to help us further, please visit our online shop where you can purchase gifts from the Shrine, or make a donation. THANK YOU.

Fr Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Brother Paul Jenkins

Please remember in your prayers our brother, Paul Jenkins, O.Carm., who will be ordained deacon today (the feast of Saint Joseph) at Aylesford Priory.

'The twelve said: "Friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task of service" ... They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.' (Acts 6)

Please can I also ask you to keep our brothers in the Ukraine in your prayers. The British Province has a long tradition of working with the Order there, and they need our prayers more than ever. Please also keep the people in your prayers. Thank you.

Fr Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm

(With thanks to Johan)

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Thoughts from our Chaplain: Just do it!

In Mission Today (Spring 2014) Fr John Hemer narrates how Queen Victoria was giving a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. Whatever was served, it was followed by the use of finger bowls. One visiting dignitary, taking it to be one of the many drinks on offer, picked up his finger bowl and drank it! The people around him were horrified. The Queen saw what was going on and rescued him by picking up her own finger bowl and drinking it. This meant that all present had to follow suit! Fr John brings out how Jesus took our place of shame and how through his passion and cross he made us privileged children of the kingdom of God.

Over the centuries several people have followed Jesus’ example. Fr Maximilian Kolbe, who volunteered to offer up his own life in place of a family man. It also reminds me of my uncle Pé (Piet) and his wife Rika. At the risk of their own lives they saved a good number of young Jews, on the run from the Nazis, by hiding them in their cellar and bunkers in the heather field. After the war they refused to get on e.g. the Queen’s Honours list. Pé’s reaction was, “What we did should be done quite naturally by any Christian”. Being the down to earth man he was he would have said, “Just get on with it”! A good thought for Lent!                                   

Fr Piet Wijngaard, O.Carm.