Good morning, folks! There’s been some radio silence on the blog-front the last month or so… I don’t know about you, but for me, September and October seem to be the time of year you are simply racing to keep up with yourself. Perhaps it’s just adjusting back into full-speed after a comparatively slower August… But all over the Church, event after event has taken place and I’ve spent a good portion of these last few weeks on trains with my trusty new wheely bag. National Rail, I feel I know you intimately.
So, what’s been going on? I spent a fab day with the Sion community in Brentwood, giving teaching on evangelisation to their mission teams who are about to go out on mission very soon. We looked at the theology of evangelisation, including Evangelii Nuntiandi, Redemptoris Missio, and Evangelii Gaudium; we looked at some of the reasons why, in the last few decades, we have not been so good at evangelisation in our country; and we spent the afternoon looking at the Great Story – the 9 acts of the kerygma from Forming Intentional Disciples – and reflecting on how these can be presented to others. I had never been to the Sion community before, but it was a great blessing to be there, particularly as they had a novena of 24/7 prayer and Adoration going on for their missions. It was beautiful to spend time with the Blessed Sacrament in a place where community members were interceding day and night for the fruits of their missions. Yes – we need more of this!
I also spent some time with St Richard’s parish in Chichester, who have just launched a two-year Confirmation programme using Transformed in Christ. (How I became connected with the people in this parish is one of the amazing stories of providence of the last year, involving my 30th birthday, Made for Glory and this boat! Remind me to tell that story one day…)
And then, there was yesterday’s Proclaim 15 conference in Cardiff. I was asked to give the opening “keynote” which was an enormous privilege, and slightly daunting: the other keynote was Fr Pat Collins CM, a truly inspiring, holy priest of the charismatic renewal, and author of many books. I don’t know about you, but when I hear “keynote”, I think “must include lots of stories, jokes and have the audience laughing at frequent intervals”. Well, other than perhaps falling flat on my face, I would find it hard to get an audience laughing, I’m not a natural joke-teller. At the end of our Called and Gifted teacher training, we were assessed and I still have the piece of paper with Sherry Weddell’s writing, under-lined, “Add humor.” I’ve been working on it 🙂 and my amusing stories didn’t fall flat yesterday, so I am improving, I hope…
The topic I was given to speak about was Transformation in Christ: From Membership to Discipleship, which was a gift – what better title could you ask for?! I contrasted the difference between being a “member of the Church” to being a “disciple of Christ” with the difference between having a contract with God, and being in a covenant with God. I also wanted to use the talk to proclaim in many different ways the Gospel message, because, as we know, there are many who haven’t heard this message and made it personal. I must say, I really enjoyed speaking to this great crowd. You can see photos from the event here.
Right back at the start of September, I went with my dad and my good friend Collette on silent retreat to the Foyers de Charité in Chateauneuf de Galaure. This is the home of Marthe Robin, the 20th century mystic who was completely paralysed for most of her life, and yet had thousands of visitors every year, and has now been declared venerable. Something tells me that most people could do with a silent retreat… What is wonderful about the Foyers, is that the retreat is five full days. Silence can be difficult, which is why many of us run away from it, say we’re too busy or can’t leave the family for that long. But, in silence, God works, heals, transforms us in a way that he can’t do so well when we won’t just shut up! My experience over the past decade of my life, is that God’s deep healing comes through prayer and through silence. So many Catholics I speak to think of a week’s retreat as a “luxury” they can’t afford. However, if you are a Catholic deeply involved in the life of the Church, I would say that an annual silent retreat is a necessity you can’t afford to miss! Truly… We expect a lot of ourselves, but don’t give time to allow God to fill us up, to drink deeply from Him. And if you’re a fairly mature disciple of Christ, don’t bother with retreats that are not in silence… Seriously… We do need fellowship with others, but more importantly, we need to let God in. Stop nattering 🙂 If you’re interested in a Foyers retreat, I recommend the wonderful community of Tressaint in Brittany: www.tressaint.com (watch their video!). I know there will be an English retreat there next October for the Year of Mercy… who’s coming with me?!
Finally, I was able to enjoy some time with my gorgeous family last weekend… We visited a good priest friend of ours in Bristol, and none of us can get enough of our sweet little Rose… (See my sister’s blog here.) And isn’t this Sunday afternoon walk pic evocative of the beautiful autumn we’re enjoying so far?!
Happy Sunday everyone!