It was chilly in New York but warm inside the Starbucks shop just a skip up from Times Square. For a musician, it’s the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I’m told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right. During our emotional rendition of “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along. After the tune was over, she approached me. “I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?” she asked. “No,” I replied. “We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?” To my delight, she accepted my invitation. “You choose,” I said. “What are you in the mood to sing?” “Well… do you know any hymns?” Hymns? This woman didn’t know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. “Name one.” “Oh, I don’t know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.” “Okay,” I replied. “How about ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’?” My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, “Yeah. Let’s do that one. She began to sing. “Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?” The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. “I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free. For His eye is on the sparrow. And I know He watches me.” When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, “Oh, y’all go back to your coffee! I didn’t come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get somethin’ to drink, just like you!” But the ovation continued. I embraced my new friend. “You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!” “It’s funny that you picked that particular hymn,” she said. “Why is that?” She hesitated again, “that was my daughter’s favourite song.” She grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual. “She was sixteen. She died of a brain tumour last week.” I said the first thing that found its way through my silence. “Are you going to be okay?” She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. “I’m gonna be okay. I’ve just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything’s gonna be just fine.” Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favourite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it. God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it’s no stretch for me to imagine that he could reach into a coffee shop in New York and turn an ordinary day into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting him and singing his songs, everything’s gonna be okay.
Heavenly Father, help us remember that the “so-and-so” who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children. Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can’t seem to get his life together is a worried 19-year-old student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester. Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking down-and-out, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares. Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the supermarket aisle and blocking our shopping progress are savouring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together. Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all the people around us. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, let us show patience, empathy and most of all love. Amen.
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by Fr. Bryan Cunningham on 10/05/2013
Ten years ago we brought the Symbol of the Holy Spirit to the Shrine. The Shrine should become for us the Upper Room where God can change our hearts and send us out into the world as apostles. It started as an initiative of the Groups in Liverpool and then the whole Schoenstatt Family got involved. Paul Cooper created a design – the Goldsmiths in the Brother’s remarked we can rely on England to have their own unique creative take on the symbols used in the Shrine. The gold and some precious stones were donated from the Schoenstatt Family and I remember being with Fr. Duncan at the Brothers when all the “old gold” was put into a crucible and melted into a small ingot of pure gold which was later to be hammered into the dove for the Holy Spirit Symbol for the Shrine in Kearsley. At the time Fr. Duncan said – of course the people did not give “pieces old gold”. They gave themselves. They put their hearts into the fashioning of this symbol of God’s love and peace and the Spirit who makes us holy. It reminded us of Fr. Kentenich’s word that the Covenant of Love is about a union of hearts – a melting of hearts into one! Ten years on we want to give thanks for the miracle of grace in our Shrine and in this Year of Faith we pray that we may be united with every fibre of our being to the heart of God and that he may continue to help us be apostles of the Covenant of Love. We will remember this this coming Sunday 12th May at our May Day. We start with Mass at 3.30pm and we invite you to come along and join us. For details of the May Day Click here
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This year the Kentenich Talks held by Fr Duncan McVicar will be on Wednesdays 10th and 17th of July and on the 4th and 25th of September 2013. (Watch this space for detailed information to follow.) Fr. Duncan will talk about how Father Kentenich shows us a way to live our faith in everyday lives. He helps us to find an active prayer life growing through the Covenant of Love in binding ourselves to the heart of God with every fibre of our being. Father Kentenich had great interest that we should gain a deeper understanding of our faith and with this increase in knowledge, we could live the richness of our faith. He encourages us in a life of generosity to live our personal mission and reach out to others as apostles of the Covenant of Love. We welcome you to these talks and the chance to share and deepen our faith. Light refreshments will be available at 7.30pm and following this Fr. Duncan will hold one of the series of four talks with the chance of questions and discussion at the end. We aim to conclude each evening by 9.30pm.
When we speak about Crowning Our Lady it means that we recognise that she is our Queen in heaven: By virtue of her relationship to Jesus Christ, our Saviour and the Universal King, and by virtue of the mission that God gave her in life for the salvation of the world. In Holy Scripture, amongst those who receive the “crown of life and glory” (James 1,12; 1 Peter 5,4; Revelation 2,10), Mary is the first and the most prominent. Often she is compared to the woman with the “crown of twelve stars upon her head” (Revelation 12,1). In our Tradition of Faith, the role of Mary in our Salvation, was often described with the symbol of the crown and the title “Queen”. In past cultures where “kings” and “Queens” were common figures, it seemed much more obvious that Christ and Mary would be symbolised through “royal” symbols. The Crown of Mary became the sign for her care, her protection, her intercession and also her mission to bring us closer to God. Our Crowning today at the beginning of May is a consequence of our striving to be witnesses of Christ and instruments in Our Lady’s hands for a better world. Through recognising and celebrating Mary as a Queen, we can find it easier to celebrate Christ as our King and Lord. The Crowning of Mary should not be understood just as an expression of piety, it is also a sign of our efforts and striving to live and build the Kingdom of God here and now. When we crown Mary today, what are we saying? We are asking her to make us witnesses, we are asking her to give us the grace to build the Kingdom of Jesus everywhere, amongst our young people, in our families, in our homes, in our country, and we are asking her to use us as her instruments to establish more and more the “civilisation of love”. When we crown Mary, we are also seeing in her the ideal for women today. She is the woman who God raised up in an original way (see Luke 1,52). Crowning Mary means to value properly the “genius of womanhood” and the dignity of women in general, but also to recognise the individual dignity of Mary, the Mother of God. Mary’s mission is to take us to God and to help us experience God in our daily lives of faith. By Crowning Mary we are making a step towards God in our own lives, and we are becoming more aware of God’s presence in our lives and in our families. Is not our Church a Family? Doesn’t she have the mission to spread and grow more and more in the world? The Church has Mary as the great Mother of the People, but she is also a Queen standing beside Christ the King. Again today, we may look upon the Queen of the Universe. And shouldn’t that fill us with a great and deep joy? We are able to offer Mary again, as our Mother and Queen, a Crown. We want to crown her and we are allowed to crown her as the Mother and Queen of the world!”
by Fr. Bryan Cunningham on 04/05/2013
You are invited to our Covenant Mass in May: Saturday 18th May at 7.30pm followed by a Pentecost Bonfire and light refreshments. In the beginning of Schoenstatt Father Kentenich said to the young students as he explained his dream of the little Chapel becoming a place of grace through the special presence of Our Lady: “I see that your hears have caught fire.” Will our hearts catch fire this Pentecost. Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our mother gathered the Apostles in the hope of the promised Spirit. She invites each of us to enter the upper room and open our hearts for the Holy Spirit. The Apostles were open for the Spirit because they had joined in Mary’s prayer. Their faith now called them to become bearers of the word of God to all. Our deepest desire in prayer is to become an apostle of the Covenant of Love. Through our deep love of Mary we grow in our love of her Son, Jesus – our Saviour and Friend.
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Once again our Taste and See Team invite you to the celebration of our May Day. This is a day of pilgrimage in which we invite the Schoenstatt Family, the Pilgrim Mother groups our local Parishes especially those who have visited us for a Parish Shrine Day and the members of our Taste and See Group to join together for Mass at 3.30pm with a procession to the Shrine in which we can bring our flowers for Our Lady and also our Pilgrim Mother Shrines. There will be a meditation led by Liz and Gerry Markland on prayer in the days leading up to the great event of Pentecost. Our prayer should invite the Holy Spirit to change us and allow us to pray for many who look for God in their lives. We bring all our concerns and worries and our thanks for all the gifts we have received and we take time to beg pardon for opportunities missed. There will be a programme for the children and we will share a snack together before concluding with prayer in the Shrine. You are invited and you are encouraged to bring a friend.
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