Ecclesiasticus 27:4-7 Psalm 91
I Corinthians 15:54-58 Luke 6:39-45
BEING PEOPLE OF COMPASSION
In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate”. This week I have been thinking about compassion and what it means for me and for us all. These words of Jesus put me in mind of the Dutch theologian and spiritual writer Henri Nouwen. He wrote of compassion as the vocation of every follower of Christ. Compassion is the particular gift we Christians offer our world and he saw in the Pieta, in Mary holding the broken body of her son after he had been taken down from the cross, the image of our vocation to be people of compassion. This is what he wrote:
“Look at Mary as she hold the broken body of her so. There we can see our vocation, to open our arms to those who suffer and to let them discover that, in communion with Jesus, they can live their anguish without losing their peace. You know, but constantly forget as I do, that our vocation is not to take away human suffering but to reveal that, through Jesus, their suffering has become a way to glory. In our production minded world we are tempted to ask ourselves what our unique contribution is as Christians in comparison with lawyers, doctors and social workers … such comparison often leads us to very low self-esteem …. But we should realise that we are not sent into the world to take away human anguish but to share it and to proclaim in our bodies the victory of love. And in fact we do share it every time we do not run away from the anguish of God’s people but receive it in faith.”
Many years ago, I was based in Guyana, South America, for about six months. I was making my tertianship, the last year of Jesuit training. One of my jobs was to be a chaplain in the prison located in the centre of Georgetown, the capital city. I was assistant to Fr John, the Anglican chaplain, and every week we would spend two days in the prison, holding services, speaking individually to prisoners and, in my case, offering a few basic numeracy and literacy classes. The prison was very overcrowded and the needs of the prisoners were great.
On one afternoon each week we would visit the section of the prison where the men on death row were housed. I like to think I learnt much about compassion from Fr John: it was as though I could see him putting the words of Henri Nouwen into practice. I remember well how he would go from cell to cell, speaking with each man or rather listening to him. I can see him now holding a prisoner’s hand through the bars of the cell as he prayed with him. I was very struck by how much the prisoners trusted him and how much John’s visits and his prayers meant to them. I remember how on one visit we made, on Christmas day, I saw written in chalk on the wall of the corridor outside their cells the words “God is here” and he was, in the compassion which we tried to share with these men and, in a mysterious way, which they shared with us.
Here’s a prayer which meant much to me all those years ago and which I think complements the words of Henri Nouwen and the work of Fr John rather well. I hope it might mean something to you as well.
Grant, Lord, that your unimaginable love may find in me some love to meet it.
Let me love the love: the love that always loves me.
And let my loves delight be ever to love you,
and what you love,
and who you love,
just as you love,
now and for always, life without end. Amen.
Fr Michael Holman, S.J.
Ash Wednesday falls on Wednesday 6th March. Masses will be celebrated at the usual times of 8am, 1.05pm and 6pm, and ashes will be imposed at each Mass. Confessions will be heard in the church before each Mass.
Today for around 40 minutes after the 9.30am and 11am Masses we are holding the second of our Parish Forums. This is an open invitation to meet the Parish Pastoral Council and share any questions or suggestions you may have. Participants will be invited to fill in a short questionnaire on topics relating to the parish, which will then be used to guide the Council over the next year. Please do consider giving some of your time towards this as we hope the Forum will be as representative as possible.
Join us on Thursday 7th March at 7pm in the parish hall for the launch of the book, ‘The Body and Desire: Gregory of Nyssa’s Ascetical Theology’ by Raphael A. Cadenhead. This publication sets out to retrieve the full range of Gregory’s thinking on the challenges of the ascetic life and his relevance for contemporary ethical discourse. There will be a presentation by the author and an opportunity for questions and answers, which will be followed by a reception. All are most welcome to attend.
LENTEN REFLECTIONS IN CONCERT
To help us enter more deeply into the spirit of Lent, Farm Street Church will be having two tea-time piano recitals performed by world-renowned pianist Bobby Chen, which will both be accompanied by short Lenten reflections. These will take place on Saturday 9th March and Saturday 23rd March at 4.40pm. The recitals will be finished by 5.30pm. All are very welcome to attend.
AN EVENING WITH TIM SCHMALZ
Tim Schmalz, the sculptor of Homeless Jesus that now finds a place in Farm Street Church, will talk about his art and his faith with special reference to the Homeless Jesus Statue. This will take place in the parish hall at 6.45pm on Thursday 21st March.
THE TABLET LECTURES
Farm Street will be hosting two prestigious events organized by The Tablet. The first, a talk by Dr Michael Hurley entitled, ‘Weird Science and the Search for God: G.M. Hopkins, A. Conan Doyle, J.R.R. Tolkien’ will take place in the parish hall on Thursday 14th March from 5.45pm – 8.15pm. The second, a talk by Melanie McDonagh entitled, ‘The Role of Catholic Education in the Modern World’ will take place in the parish hall on Wednesday 20th March from 5.45pm – 8.15pm. Both talks will be followed by Q&As, drinks and canapés, and book sales. These talks are ticketed events and tickets must be purchased through The Tablet. For more information please visit www.thetablet.co.uk/events or call 020 8748 8484.
TALK BY ANDREW WHITE ON ART
Andrew White, our artist-in-residence, will speak about his art as an expression of his faith, including his large work ‘The Last Supper’ and his forthcoming commission for Farm Street ‘Mother Mary’. This will take place on Sunday March 17th at 12:30pm in the Meeting Room
THE PROPHETIC IMAGINATION
All are most welcome to attend an ecumenical service to mark the 39th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Oscar Romero. This event is being organized by the Archbishop Romero Trust, and will include David McLoughlin from Newman University as the principal speaker. The service will take place on Saturday 16th March at 11am at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ.
The Bridge Club meets here every Tuesday evening, starting at 6.30pm, all levels are welcome. Funds raised go to the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).
Mount Street Jesuit Centre
114 Mount Street, London W1K 3AH
Book online for any of these events
Information: 020 7495 1673 or
Why not come to our Regular Events?
• Drop-in Prayer
Every Monday 6.30-7pm
• Lunchtime Lectio
Every Tuesday 1.40-2pm
• Wednesdays at the Well – Come to Rest & Be Refreshed
3rd Wednesday of each month 11.30am-3.30pm (Next meeting: March 20th, 2019)
• Book Club
2nd Thursday of each month 7-8.30pm
(Next meeting: March 14h, 2019)
Book: Eric Varden ‘The Shattering of Loneliness’
BEREAVEMENT AND LOSS GROUP
Facilitated by Maria Shapero
Thursday 7th March 11.30-1pm
Grief is a particularly isolating experience that can affect all aspects of your life physically, emotionally and socially. There are many kinds of grieving…
You are welcome to just come along or contact Maria Shapero Mariashapero@hotmail.com or 0755 324 2322 for more details.
IGNATIAN RETREAT DAY
Facilitated by members of the Mount Street Jesuit Centre team
Saturday 9th March 11am-4pm
These are retreat days of prayer run in an Ignatian way, in which there is talk, time for personal prayer and the opportunity to listen to each other.
There is no need to book for these days, just come along.
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS
Facilitated by Malachy Keegan
Saturday 16th March 11am-4pm
In today’s world, mental health is increasingly being seen as of equal importance as physical health. The course will be a Beginner’s Guide to Mental Health Awareness. The course will explain, in simple terms, the process of healthy and happy human development from early to later life, what might go wrong and how the damage can be repaired. It will be of particular use to anyone who works with people in a pastoral or caring situation.
GROWING IN AWARENESS
Facilitated by Helen Davies & Lynne Galloway
Saturday 23rd March 11am-4pm
This workshop will explore the very practical tool of the Daily Review, also known as the Examen that St. Ignatius offers us in his Spiritual Exercises. Enabling us to become more aware of the NOW. We will explore practical ways in which we can integrate this Daily Review/Examen into our daily lives.
ANOTHER VIEW ON WHY JESUS DIED: AT-ONE-MENT
Facilitated by David Cherry
Saturday 30th March 11am-4pm
As Holy Week draws near here is an opportunity to reimagine salvation, to think and begin to feel your faith in a free-er way. Using Girardian themes of mimesis and the scapegoat mechanism David will attempt to draw you into a vaster & life giving conversation about believing in Jesus.
WONDERING WHAT TO DO FOR LENT?
6th March-21st April
This Lent we are able to offer you three different retreat opportunities to share your Lenten journey to deepen your relationship with God, with others and with the world, in company with others around the country. Sign up on https://www.pathwaystogod.org/lent-retreat-2019If you have any questions please email Elizabeth Harrison firstname.lastname@example.org