Saturday, 24 October 2009

PPP - a proud parish priest

A good day spent with our Eucharistic Ministers at Llantarnam Abbey. This was our second such day, and it was a great success. Fr James started us off by celebrating Mass at St Brigid's, before everyone headed off for the Abbey. I was timetabled for the talk in the morning, but at 9.30 I still didn't have a central theme. Then, a flash of inspiration, as I thought of some of Cardinal Newman's writings. So I used two of his reflections.
After tea and coffee at the Abbey, I settled us down with a little imaginative exercise on the hands of God the Father, then offered my thoughts on the two Newman passages, giving everyone a sheet with them printed on that I'd run off during James' Mass! Then I asked everyone to go and find a quiet spot for half an hour and focus on a word, phrase or sentence that spoke to them from the two passages.
Half way through the 30 minutes the sun suddenly burst throught the grey, wet and windy morning. It was as if the Lord was telling me not to worry about the day.
After a packed lunch we gathered again. I invited James to kick off with his own thoughts and he shared about the word "shining" in Newman's prayer, telling us about a recently deceased lady who always spent an hour in our church at lunchtime, and the shine in her face. Then we opened up the discussion for other people's thoughts and - that's exactly what many did! One after another, our wonderful people spoke about their experiences and what they felt the Lord was saying to them. There were some tears and some amazement, above all at the openness of our youngest minister who talked about his being autistic. Others talked about their experience of cancer and so on, while there was also much affirming of one another. I found the whole thing moving, and a tribute to the faith of the people of our 3 Churches.
Finally we repaired to the Chapel for half an hour's Adoration, during which I commissioned two more ministers for Christ the King, to add to the eight new ones last weekend.
It may sound strange, but I was one very proud parish priest today, and I don't mind saying so.

Here are the two passages...

I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God's counsels, in God's world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name. God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission - I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his--if indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work: I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught.
I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.
Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me - still He knows what He is about.

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Your Spirit and Life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be mine. It will be You, shining on others through me. Let me thus praise You in the way which You love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by my words but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears for You.

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