Dear Friends, Following the conclusion of the Year of Faith, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has published a letter of encouragement to all the faithful based on the findings of the last Bishops’ Synod on New Evangelisation. He encourages each of us and the whole Church to find our calling to missionary conversion and that all our apostolate should have a missionary style. Father Duncan McVicar introduces a programme of putting the Year of Faith into action. – “Schoenstatt – Hearts Afire”. – How do we evangelise?A series of monthly meetings at the Shrine will introduce us to the “Tree of Evangelisation” in ten sessions with time for discussion, refreshments and prayer. Please find enclosed a flyer with the details of the course and a diary with the dates and themes of each of the ten sessions. Please print off and give to the members of your group. You may also give them out in your Parish or invite a friend or work colleague. To download the information Flyer click here.
This past year we have been celebrating the Year of Faith, a time in which we, the faithful, have been called to deepen our faith and to grow closer to Christ and his Church. For many Catholics, this has been a time of renewal and grace. But for many in the Middle East—especially Christians—this time has been a period of extreme trial. I want to respond to the question of “What do we do next after the Year of Faith?” by looking at the witness of our persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East. There is a town by the name of Maalula (pronounced Mah-loo-lah) that is one of the most famous and important Christian places in Syria. It is a historically Christian town, where a version of Aramaic—the language Jesus spoke, can still be heard today. In the last two weeks, the inhabitants of Maalula have been on the front lines of the fighting between the troops of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels who are trying to topple his regime. The Christians are often suspected of siding with the government and are therefore treated with suspicion by the rebel fighters, whose ranks appear to contain some radical Islamists who are not Syrian. On September 7th, this year, armed rebels affiliated with the Islamist groups Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda descended on the town and began entering houses. As they went through Maalula, the rebels defaced any sacred images they found in the homes. In one house, the militants found three Catholic men and one woman. The rebels demanded that everyone present convert to Islam or face death. The young grandson, responded: “I am a Christian and if you want to kill me because I am a Christian, do it.” They were then killed in cold blood. Some-how, the woman was only injured and miraculously survived. She is currently being treated at a hospital in Damascus. I share this story because I believe it will help us to respond to the question: “What do we do once the Year of Faith is over?” Does our society understand this kind of sacrifice? Does our culture honour courageous faith like his? I think the answer to those questions is that Western society finds any faith-rooted sacrifice like his almost incomprehensible because our culture is so focused on self-promotion and self-satisfaction. These faithful Christians were able to stand for their faith because it was not just something they felt was right at the moment; it was integral to their identity and they believed it was the Truth. The natural consequence of their belief in Jesus and his Church was for them to give public witness to it, even if it meant death. [Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver]
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft and mushy. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hardened egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its deep flavour and inhaled its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?” Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin, outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water. “Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong? But with pain and adversity, do I wilt and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a fluid spirit but, after death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water – the very circumstance that brings the adversity, the pain, the hardship – into something quite wonderful. When the water gets hot, it releases it’s fragrance and flavour. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better, and change the situation around you for the better. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?
(Somehow, “wake up and smell the coffee” takes on a whole new meaning)
Welcome to our Covenant Mass in November. Holy Mass will be on Monday 18th November at 7.30pm at the Shrine followed by light refreshments. Throughout the year we have looked at how to keep our Faith growing. There are three ways in which God attracts people to Himself. We are attracted firstly by TRUTH. We find an answer to our questions in the Church. Secondly we are attracted by BEAUTY. We walk into a beautiful cathedral or see a sunset, or are inspired by beautiful music and we find God there.Thirdly, people are attracted to God by the GOODNESS of others: Smiling faces, open hands, open hearts. Other people’s goodwill opens the door to God’s Love. Here at Schoenstatt, around and from our Shrine, we want to bring TRUTH, BEAUTY AND GOODNESS to people’s hearts so that we all may be drawn closer to God. In this month of the Holy Souls we remember all our deceased loved ones and ask that they may have their eternal reward.
When I was a little boy, my mother used to embroider a great deal. I would sit at her knee and look up from the floor and ask what she was doing. She informed me that she was embroidering. I told her that it looked like a mess from where I was. As from the underside I watched her work within the boundaries of the little round hoop that she held in her hand, I complained to her that it sure looked messy from where I sat. She would smile at me, look down and gently say, “My son, you go about your playing for a while, and when I am finished with my embroidering, I will put you on my knee and let you see it from my side.” I would wonder why she was using some dark threads along with the bright ones and why they seemed so jumbled from my view. A few minutes would pass and then I would hear Mother’s voice say, “Son, come and sit on my knee.” This I did only to be surprised and thrilled to see a beautiful flower or a sunset. I could not believe it, because from underneath it looked so messy. Then Mother would say to me, “My son, from underneath it did look messy and jumbled, but you did not realize that there was a pre-drawn plan on the top. It was a design. I was only following it. Now look at it from my side and you will see what I was doing.” Many times through the years I have looked up to my Heavenly Father and said, “Father, what are You doing?” He has answered, “I am embroidering your life. ” I say, “But it looks like a mess to me. It seems so jumbled. The threads seem so dark. Why can’t they all be bright?” The Father seems to tell me, “‘My child, you go about your business of doing My business, and one day I will bring you to Heaven and put you on My knee and you will see the plan from My side.”
A girl went to a party, but she ended up staying longer than planned and had to walk home alone. She wasn’t afraid because it was a small town and she lived only a few streets away. As she walked along under the tall elm trees, she asked God to keep her safe from harm and danger. When she reached the road, which was a shortcut to her house, she decided to take it. However, halfway down the road she noticed a man standing at the end as though he were waiting for her. She became uneasy and began to pray, asking for God’s protection. A comforting feeling of quietness and security wrapped around her, and she felt as though someone was walking with her. When she reached the end of the road, she walked right past the man and arrived home safely. The following day, she read in the newspaper that a young woman had been attacked in the same road just twenty minutes after she had been there. Feeling overwhelmed by this tragedy and the fact that it could have been her, she began to cry. Thanking the Lord for her safety and to help this young woman, she decided to go to the police station. She felt she could recognize the man, so she told them her story. The police asked her if she would be willing to look at a lineup to see if she could identify him. She agreed and immediately pointed out the man she had seen in the road the night before. When the man was told he had been identified, he immediately broke down and confessed. The officer thanked her for her bravery and asked if there was anything they could do for her. She asked if they would ask the man one question. She was curious as to why he had not attacked her. When the policeman asked him, he answered, “Because she wasn’t alone. She had a tall man walking right beside her.”
Taste and See Mass falls on Remembrance Sunday this year, 10th November 2013 at 3.30pm. We would like to welcome you to the Shrine for Mass. After holy Mass we will take the opportunity to share a meal with one another. Many people wear poppies at this time of year to remind us of all those who have fallen in war or are the victims of conflict. Our time is one marred by conflict and war. We pray for peace. We also pray for those who suffer as a consequence of violence and war in their countries and think of those who have died trying to escape such conflict, only to find death at se in their journey of hope. Many families have become homeless. We pray for a just and fair society. November is also the Month of the Holy Souls. We remember all our loved one who have gone on before us and pray that they may have their eternal rest. Resquiescant in pace. Let us pray in the intention of all those who have died:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heartmand my soul.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I breath forth my soul in peace with you. Amen.