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:
June 30th 2020
The Eucharist as the Source of Love
A pandemic spread all over the world. It was an ordeal for all of us. Relatives died, some experienced terrible loneliness, couples could no longer bear to live together and separated, while others, on the contrary, managed to find again in deeper manner the love they had for each other in the beginning. Even those who were not physically tested have been forced to face the seriousness of life, in the sense of the world’s future. The consequences on work, employment and the world economy are considerable.
There was another ordeal. We were no longer able to celebrate mass publicly. And there was the terrible ordeal of not being able to take communion. And when the public celebrations of mass finally resumed, what a relief it was for the priests as well as for the faithful! We all need each other: without the priests, no Eucharist, without the faithful, what is the meaning of this sacrament that is given, but not received? What should we think of all this? Let us listen to Father Caffarel tell us about the fundamentals and we will see their consequences.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:56-57) When we read this extraordinary passage, how can we not foresee the exceptional grandeur of the marriage of two Christians? Husband and wife, you who eat Christ’s flesh, who drink his blood, who live and experience Christ’s life in your soul and in your body, you who remain in him, and him in you, how would you not love with a love that is completely different from that of other people, with a resurrected love? Can you look at each other, share your sorrows and joys, give yourselves to each other with your whole heart, your whole body, help each other along the way, without having the feeling that you are living and experiencing a very great mystery?” (Excerpt from « Mariage et Eucharistie », L’Anneau d’Or, n°117-118, « Le mariage, route vers Dieu », mai-août 1964).
The great mystery is to live and experience, both personally and as a couple, the life of Christ, the love of Christ. The Eucharist is the source of love in everyone and most obviously in married love. Each spouse is seized by the love of Christ and is united to the other spouse. The couple remains in Christ. Marriage is then very much a path towards God, where each person and every couple is nourished, purified, fortified and fulfilled by the Eucharist.
An essential consequence becomes obvious. Admittedly, the inability to take communion was difficult during the pandemic. But the strength of the Eucharist received before the ordeal was not weakened, did not disappear because the Lord clearly realised the reality of our life. He gave his grace. He did even more than that: during the time when our “daily bread” was scarce, the Lord deepened our heart and made love grow and increase in us, between us. Being locked down at home may have been difficult, but it was also the source of a greater love. During lockdown, the absence of Eucharistic bread was able to secretly stir up in us a greater hunger in our hearts. It was and is the desire for God that enables life to surge forth in us and that pushes us to bear witness to God’s love to everyone around us.
Father Paul-Dominique Marcovits, o.p., Editor of the Cause for Father Caffarel
June 7th 2020
June 3rd 2020
Our Zone Couple Kevin & Faye Noonan shared thoughts on “Discovering on-line opportunities during lock-down” with the ERI. Here the link and the text:
In just a short time, Coronavirus has fundamentally changed many aspects of our life. Activities that we thought were ordinary and routine in the past, have now become difficult or sometimes impossible. We yearn for a time when we can meet with our own Team members again in their home, share a meal, and feel their embrace.
However, there are still many things we can do, and there are even some activities that we can now do better than before. It is a time to be innovative and to have the courage to try new ideas. Our own journey in recent months has been one of discovery, and we have been amazed by the ingenuity of some teams during a time of adversity.
Our first experience of the Coronavirus outbreak happened while we were on our way to an ERI meeting in Togo, followed by a large gathering with the Teams of French-speaking Africa. After the meetings in Togo, we planned to spend the next week in Ghana, part of the Eurasia Zone, visiting the Teams in Techiman. We were excited at the prospect of meeting them for the first time. So much work had gone into preparation for the meetings in both countries, and we were very disappointed when they both had to be cancelled.
As we returned to Australia and into mandatory isolation, we hoped that one day we might finally meet the Teams in Ghana. We were delighted to receive an invitation to join a WhatsApp group called “Teams of Our Lady in Techiman”. This is a very active group and includes daily scripture readings and reflections, as well as the prayers and hymns for Sunday Mass. It is also an important link between team members and local clergy, as well as contacts in Great Britain. It is wonderful to see how the couple who brought Teams to Ghana, (Mary and Robert Jones from England), continue to remain in close contact. In a country where internet access is slow, they already had a well-functioning online community where distance was irrelevant. The online aspects of their Teams life prepared the Teams in Techiman well for the Coronavirus challenges that lay ahead. We are touched to have been invited into this community and inspired by their faith.
Encouraged by these simple, practical initiatives, we began to look for other opportunities where technology could improve contact with Teams members, rather than just be a poor substitute during difficult times.
We started with our own Zone meetings with SR/RR couples. These meetings are typically held once a year at the International College. Using Zoom, we are now holding frequent Zone meetings (currently monthly), and this has deepened our relationship as a team. Through more frequent contact, we have been able to share ideas and develop joint initiatives, so that duplicated effort is reduced across the Zone.
For the next Eurasia Zone initiative, we worked with the SR/RR couples to hold regular online English-language Masses during May and June. These Masses are open to all Teams members around the world and have been much appreciated. The Masses are being celebrated by Spiritual Counsellors from different countries in Eurasia, so that each country can bring a little of its own culture to the celebration of Mass. Already we have celebrated Masses from New Zealand, Great Britain and India, with future Masses scheduled from Australia and Ireland.
We were delighted that Bishop Steve Lowe, from New Zealand, agreed to celebrate the first of these Masses. In 2018, Bishop Steve invited Teams into his Diocese and agreed to be the Spiritual Counsellor for one of the newly formed Teams of young couples. We piloted this Team in 2019 from Australia using Skype, and the experience was very successful. We learned many valuable lessons about the challenges of holding Team meetings over the internet, and we drew heavily on this practical experience during the Coronavirus lockdowns.
It is clear to us, that WhatsApp, Zoom and Skype have created new opportunities for us to provide better liaison. However, we also clearly understand that these online tools are not a replacement for personal interaction. There can be no better way to understand the realities of life for couples in any country, than to meet with them in their home, to embrace them, to walk in their footsteps, and to feel their joy and their pain. Online encounters can never deliver the deep insights gained through close and personal interaction, but they can create new and innovative ways of communicating with each other.
During the lockdowns in March, for example, we were invited to join an online meeting of the Oceania Super Regional Team for a short time using Zoom. In the past, this would have been a major logistical challenge, requiring travel for more than 1000 kilometres. Reflecting on the success of this meeting, we can now see there is an opportunity for us to work more closely with Regional and Super Regional teams in other countries through simple online visits. Sometimes the best ideas are just simple ideas that are easy to implement!
Of course, END does not operate separately from other parts of the Catholic Church, and the Church is also changing in its use of online technologies. For example, our own parish has been sustained and enlivened by online technology during the Coronavirus period, and the transition has been surprisingly easy. Each week, we now have a full schedule of online activities, including online Mass, scripture study, and a bible discussion, and we also mentor a young married couple. All this is accomplished without leaving our home!
Coronavirus will have an enduring impact on the world, and we can only hope the enduring message will be for the good of humanity. Our own experience of Teams during this crisis has been one of concern and mutual support for the welfare of others, together with a deep faith in the guiding hand of God in times of adversity. We hope the innovative ideas developed by Teams to communicate through necessity during the Coronavirus pandemic, will continue to be developed and nurtured long after the virus has gone.
29th May 2020 – a reflection from Abbot Martin of Prinknash Abbey.
I hope that you are all well. I offer some thoughts for reflection in preparation for Pentecost.
The account of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is found in the Acts of the Apostles chapter two. Although it happened fifty days after the Passion and Resurrection and the apostles and other disciples had been encouraged by the Resurrection appearances of Jesus and his Ascension, they hadn’t yet experienced the gift of courage to enable them to witness to Jesus.
Courage is to do with the heart, cor in Latin. It means the ability to do something which frightens us. The atmosphere in the Upper Room before Pentecost was fear, but at least the disciples were together, one hundred and twenty of them, including “the apostles, some women, Mary the mother of Jesus and the brothers,” and they were praying. Our Lady was in their midst praying with them. This is an image of the Church at prayer.
I have always wondered why Jesus said that he had to leave the world and return to the Father so that the Holy Spirit could come. I have reflected on this every year since I can remember. Didn’t the Holy Spirit come upon Mary at the Annunciation? didn’t it compel Simeon to enter the Temple at the Presentation of Jesus? Didn’t it drive Jesus into the wilderness and come upon him at his baptism? Wasn’t the Holy Spirit already here? It is said to have hovered over the waters at the beginning of creation, to have inspired the Old Testament Prophets. The book of Wisdom says: “The Spirit of the Lord fills the whole world.”
How is it, I wondered, that John’s Gospel says that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, that Jesus had to leave in order for it to come? I now have an understanding of what Pentecost is about and a theory about the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in a new way, a theory which I have tested. It is to do, I believe, with a teaching of Jesus in John’s Gospel, a teaching that Jesus repeated many times, emphasising that it was critical that we believe it. He even told the Jews that they would die in their sin if they did not believe it, and he called it eternal life. The teaching was this:
“I came from the Father into the world, now I leave the world and return to the Father” (Jn 16:28).
I recommend you memorise this verse, repeat it often, speak it aloud, sing it in the shower, write music for it, translate it into all the languages you know, pray it to the glory of God and the honour of Mary. Why to the honour of Mary? Because she was the means of Jesus coming into the world, as she was the initiator of his public ministry at Cana, and was at the centre of the Church praying when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Bear with me and I will unfold this theory.
Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, flesh from Mary. He has no human Father. “I came from the Father into the world, now I leave the world and return to the Father.” ‘I will not leave you orphans’ Jesus says, ‘I will return.’
The Father only ever spoke one Word. That Word is his Son. He spoke it in eternity; it created the world, spoke through the Prophets and became flesh in the last age of the world, the age of the Church. The Holy Spirit was always around and assisting the Word: – “by the word of the Lord the heavens were made and by the breath (Spirit in Hebrew) of his mouth all the stars” (Ps 33:6) – and by the Holy Spirit the Word became flesh. The Father, Son and Spirit always work together, because they are One.
Jesus had to return to the Father with the humanity which he had assumed so that the “incarnate” Word of God would reunite with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and then the Spirit of the “incarnate“ Word could return to us. “What the Son was he remained, what he was not he became,” as the Fathers of the Church used to say.
Jesus did not become a Superman; he became a broken man, like you and me, except for sin. The theology says that God assumed our flesh, the most broken part of us.
There is a parable in Luke 13 which, for me, captures the mystery of the Incarnate Word: “Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast a woman took and mixed into three measures of flour until it was leavened all through.” The yeast is our humanity, the woman is Mary, and the three measures of flour are the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One God.
At Pentecost Jesus returned. He did not leave us orphans. But there is more: Jesus had to return to the Father with his humanity so that the Eucharist might be possible. It is the Holy Spirit that makes the Eucharist possible at every Mass.
It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to conquer our fears. Isn’t the story of Pentecost so apt? Those disciples were in lockdown just as we are. They too had their fear, and uncertainty about the future, their desire for renewal and hope.
The Holy Spirit inspires and assists us with what St Paul’s calls in Greek “Parrhesia.” It means boldness in speech. Boldness for witnessing and sharing our faith. Look at the transformation of Peter after Pentecost, the Acts of the Apostles says this: “When they saw the courage and boldness (Parrhesia) of Peter and John and knew that they were uneducated ordinary men, they were amazed and took note that these men had been followers of Jesus2 (Acts 4:13).
Here is a suggestion: Let us resolve to call the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, into our lives, so that we can share boldly our hope and faith, and to do it with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm means literally in Greek to have God within us, to be “inspired,” to have the Spirit in us. The Christian is an inspired person. We have the word of life. We must share it. We must share all the gifts God has given us: our insights, our enthusiasm, our possessions too. We will be rewarded if we do so. Now is our opportunity. We might not get another chance.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Fill the hearts of your faithful; enkindle in us the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit
And renew the face of the earth
I continue to miss you all, and I keep you in my prayers, as do all the monks here at Prinknash.
My love and best wishes
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
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:
The prayer of Our Holy Father, Pope Francis to Mary in these difficult times:
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 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.See More
(Fr Martin OSB)
Gospel Passage for Divine Mercy Sunday
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)
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.
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.