Teams (Equipes Notre Dame) for the Trans-atlantic super-region.

Pandemic – shared reflections

The corona virus pandemic has affected our whole world, bringing illness, worry and changed lives to virtually everyone.  This Easter time we remember the words of St Peter “your faith will have been tested and proved like gold – only more precious than gold…. you are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described.” 1 Peter 1:4-9

We place here information about those in our super region and we include the contributions of many:

11th May 2020 – a reflection from Abbot Martin of Prinknash Abbey.

Early on I described the restrictions imposed upon us in response to the virus as a time of grace when the world is on retreat, and that is still my view.

I have been able to use this time to reflect on the meaning and purpose of our lives in this world; something I do anyway each day as a monk. But during this period such thoughts are with me constantly. We are unable to predict when life might return to “normal.” My dictionary tells me that the etymology of normal is a carpenter’s square, a kind of right-angled ruler. I remember them from technical drawing classes at school: straight and precise, or as the dictionary says, “conforming to a standard, usual, typical or expected.” Applied to a person normal is “free from physical or mental disorders.”

I’m not qualified to tell you what life was like before the restrictions, or what it might be like afterwards. All I know is what it was like for me, and what it is like now. I feel that something has shifted in my outlook. I’m beginning to appreciate the beauty of nature again, the songs of the birds, flowers, squirrels, fresh air and sunshine. Personally, I prefer silence to noise, but I have never known it to so peaceful. I do not look forward to a full return to “normal.”

I often said during retreats, that I conducted with Sarah Richards over the past few years, that I believed something was going to happen that would bring the world to its knees. I thought it might have been a war. What I meant by this is that something would happen that would bring the world to its senses, and we would get on our knees in prayer to God. This hasn’t quite happened, but I imagine many people are asking themselves what is the meaning and purpose of life? Does God exist? Is Jesus the Saviour? Are we all beloved children of God? I expect and hope that these questions will be explored when restrictions are lifted.

We monks and the recipients of this letter have been graced with an interest in such questions, even before the present crisis, and we are heirs of the Christian and Benedictine traditions which have answers to them. When the crisis is over, I think we should explore the practicalities of sharing our knowledge and our hope with others.

Crisis means judgement in Greek. The Crucifixion was the crisis of the world; the Eastertide liturgy tells us this. The Crucifixion was God’s judgement on the world. The moment of the greatest act of love the world has ever known or even imagined! It is, as St Benedict says in the Prologue to his Rule, “God showing us the way of life:” self-sacrifice for others leads to the promise of resurrection and life everlasting.

I believe God is asking us to take stock of our lives during these weeks, to make a judgement on ourselves, and a resolve about the way we should proceed in the future. I spoke to a young, successful-in-worldly-terms, couple last week, and they told me that they do not want to return to their hectic work and lifestyles. They want to devote more time and energy to the deeper things of life. We can help such people!

How is this lecture a love letter from your unworthy abbot? It is so because I “am speaking the truth in love,” to quote St Paul. Also, the one thing I have missed during this period is the people I love, and I love all you recipients of this message, all in different ways. And I miss you. I miss sharing the faith with you, and I miss your company.

Reaching out is a good thing. It balances our tendency to self-centredness and brings joy. During these weeks I have rediscovered a joy and a freedom that I had lost; I have rediscovered a happiness I had lost. This must be God’s grace. Hope of happiness has returned because I can see now that that is what God wants for me. This time of “judgement/crisis” is not a time of condemnation. It is, like the Cross, a time when God is showing us his love – in nature, in families, in friends, in silence and peace. God is doing to us what the Prophet Hosea said: “”Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.”

God is speaking tenderly to us. He is saying what Jeremiah prophesied:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.”

And the verse, “This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” This is what God is like, and it is what the world needs to know. Let us play our part; let us all reach out to one another. Maybe you could share this letter with someone!

4th May 2020

The Diocese of Westminster published on their website an article by Janet & Paul DeBoo (GB Central Regional couple). Please take a look via this link: The Joy of growing closer to God and each other every day

May 2020 – from the ERI

Dear friends,
We have prepared some news, prayers and testimonies that we want to share with you, to feel closer at this time when we cannot meet in person. You can find them with the link below.
We send you all our love,
International Responsible Team (ERI)         Latest news from the ERI – click here

Beatitudes for a Global Pandemic

We’re very grateful to Antony Denman sharing to us a link to the YouTube cartoon video “Beatitudes for a Global Pandemic”.  We found many of its benedictions and prayer intentions very moving and worth passing on:

Click here to open link

The prayer of Our Holy Father, Pope Francis to Mary in these difficult times:

O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

Care for Family Marriage Session

Care for the Family are offering their 4 part Marriage Enrichment as a webinar from 11th May to 1st June.  They ask for the details to be passed on – and the sessions are free; but there will no doubt be the opportunity to give a donation if you wish.  The charity does superb work for all aspects of family relationships.

For details and to register click here

Daily Masses from New Zealand

Bishop Steve Lowe from Hamilton NZ is a great supporter of Teams. He says Mass every day in his little private chapel. You can follow his mass on line from the Catholic diocese of Hamilton New Zealand.  www.cdh.org.nz  Each mass remains on the site for 23 hours until just before the next one so you can participate at any time of your choice.

From Fr Martin at Prinknash Abbey, a reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday 2020 

The first Sunday after Easter is now called Divine Mercy Sunday. It was introduced by Pope St John Paul II when he canonised in 2000 St Faustina. She was a simple Polish nun who had mystical experiences about God’s mercy, including an apparition of Jesus as he appears in the Divine Mercy image

People who have devotion to the Divine Mercy usually prepare for Divine Mercy Sunday by saying a novena using the Divine Mercy Chaplet starting on Good Friday and ending the day before the Feast. This has caused some scandal to priests who think it complicates the message of Easter Sunday, which is the high point of the Church’s year, if we do a devotion which begins just before Easter Sunday and carries on afterwards. For me, however, there is no problem with this. I think that the meaning of Good Friday and Easter Sunday are highlighted by Jesus’ appearance to the Apostles eight days after Easter, that is, on what is now called Divine Mercy Sunday. I can explain this with reference to the Divine Mercy image.

The image depicts Jesus as he appeared in the Upper Room to the Apostles eight days after Easter.

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That scene is the Gospel reading for this Sunday and focuses on Thomas’ belief in Jesus’s resurrection after having doubted on Easter Day. There was a providence in Thomas’ doubting. If he hadn’t doubted, we would not have the passage about him touching Jesus’ glorified wounds, or the saying, “A ghost does not have flesh and bone as you see I have.”

The image of Divine Mercy portrays Jesus blessing us with his right hand as he moves towards us. Streams of light come from his pierced side, and the words at the bottom invite us to trust. Jesus’ victory is won, but the work of convincing us is on-going. I like to think that there is only one thing that God does not know! He doesn’t know what more he could do to convince us that he loves us. If we don’t see that God loves us, it may be because we don’t go to him to find out. We try to solve our loneliness elsewhere.

One of the truths about the crucifixion is that God didn’t have to do it. He wanted to do it. ‘No one takes my life from me’, said Jesus, ‘but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father’ (John 10:18). Why it had to be this way, is God’s business. It will take eternity to enter into the meaning of it.

 

Isn’t a child brought to birth, all things being equal, to be loved. And when the parents see the child and watch it grow, don’t they want it to love them back?

I believe this is how it is with God and us. He gave us life because of his love, and all he really wants is for us to love him in return.

 

The blood and water which gushed from Jesus’ pierced side on the Cross is highly symbolic. They represent the floodgates of God’s love being poured out on us and on the world. They are like a shower of water, ever available, if we will just strip ourselves and walk into its flow. It is also symbolic of Jesus words about floods of living water gushing up within us through him:

 

37On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.’” 39He was speaking about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive’ (John 7:37-39)

 

I remember reading something Pope Benedict wrote about the piercing of Jesus’ side. He described it as God’s human heart being pierced open. It is hard to imagine God with a human heart. But the reality is that Jesus’ heart is God’s human heart. Water is the symbol; an element we take so much for granted, but without it we could live.

 

The blood and water pouring out of Jesus’ side are symbolic too of life (in the bible the life is in the blood) and cleansing. The heart of Jesus is our channel into the very life of the unseen God.

 

One of my favourite films is called “A River runs through it.” I recommend it to you. It was produced by Robert Redford and stars a young Brad Pitt. It is the story of a family in Montana. I won’t ruin it for you, but if you watch it, you will know what I’m trying to say about the mystical water which rises up within us.

 

Another way to understand the symbolism of the pierced side of Christ are in two scripture passages. I give them to you for your reflection. The first is Jesus’ words in chapter 2 of John’s Gospel:

 

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.”

 

The second passage is in the Book of Revelation chapter 22

 

22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

(Fr Martin OSB)

Gospel Passage for Divine Mercy Sunday

John 20:19-31

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

25 So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

28 Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.

31 But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

 

From the CTS

Let’s Pray Together for an End to the Coronavirus

In the Gospels, Jesus assured us on several occasions that persistent prayer would be answered. 
He told us:

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

See More“Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:9-11)

“And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’ For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)


With this in mind, we would like to join together in prayer, praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily for an end to the pandemic

Beginning on Good Friday with the Divine Mercy Novena, we’ll be praying the chaplet every day at 3 pm every day until this pandemic is over.  We’ll also provide a link to live stream it, if that’s how you prefer to pray it. We have hope that God’s mercy is greater than anything else. To find out how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, either take a look at our publications below or read this helpful guide.

In The Tablet – www.thetablet.co.uk

Pope Francis tells Austen Ivereigh that this extraordinary Lent and Eastertide could be a moment of creativity and conversion for the Church, for the world and for the whole of creation. He describes daily life under lockdown inside the Vatican, praises “the miracle of the next-door saints” – the doctors, nurses, volunteers, religious sisters, priests, shop workers who are keeping society functioning – and laments how the pandemic has exposed the “throwaway culture” and the hypocrisy of politicians who speak of facing up to the crisis while in the meantime selling weapons.  We should be preparing now for an aftermath that will be tragic and painful. 

A Pandemic Prayer – from Fr Larry Tensi (St Columban Parish, Cincinnati)

May we who are merely inconvenienced
remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors
remember those most vulnerable.

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May we who have the luxury of working from home
remember those who must choose between preserving their health
or making their rent.

May we who can care for our children when their schools close
 remember those who have no options.

May we who are taking precautions to protect ourselves
 remember those who are risking themselves to protect and save others.

May we who have to cancel our trips
remember those that have no place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money
remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
remember those who have no home.

We ask you, Lord, to bless those we remember in this way
With your unequalled love and protection.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.
Amen.

Tools for keeping in touch

While so many are required to be in isolation in our households, many are trying new ways to keep connected

Connection with God and Church

Daily prayers – Magnificat.com/free  or  https://universalis.com/

and many others eg SacredSpace

Live streaming of services https://www.churchservices.tv/churches/ 

Live stream from the Dominican sisters at Sway in the New Forest includes daily office, Mass at 12.15 (ish) daily but 11am on Sundays.  A community of 13 sisters who sing their prayer and are gifted that Fr Richard lives in a cottage in the grounds of the priory.

For family, friends and for Team Meetings www.Zoom.us, of course there’s also Skype, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp and others.