A Salesian reflection blog by the Chaplaincy team and guests
We have created this blog to help you ‘just be’ over the coming weeks. It has a mixture of spiritual elements while also being a space for those of you who are unsure about where you are with your faith.
This space will hopefully give you inspiration and ideas of how you can spend some time ‘just being’, but also doing… we hope you enjoy our first ever blog. If you have any suggestions of things you would like to see then please email them to either: Miss Barnsley or Mrs Hibbins-Durkin… here goes, hope you enjoy!
Mrs H-D’s Horticulture and Crafting…mindfully… 😉
Its always funny when we are forced to stop. On Saturday last week I started to panic, I love school and the thought of being away from our lovely community scared me. My students smiles and giggles fill my soul, so the fear of not having that meant that I had a bit of reflecting to do. As a secret fan girl of David O’Mally, I turned to his Salesian wisdom:
“We are impatient with waiting and emptiness, suspicious of stillness and uncomfortable with silence. Yet, when we are driven into the desert of our own emptiness, we find a God who is always searching for us. In that silence we find that the depth of emptiness is simply the echo of a love that never ends”
This meditation calmed my spirit and after a long walk with my husband I realised we’d been given a gift, a gift of time. Time to do those quiet things you always meant to do, that unfinished project…that thing you were always going to help your parents with! (dusting the skirting boards is always welcomed with a YEY! from my mum), the weeding…the list is endless. Most importantly though it occurred to me that in this quiet its so much easier to hear the earth breath, to feel the gentle hum of existence, of simply being…
Therefore I wanted to share with you my journey of quiet things and will send you updates as the weeks go by…
Those of you who know me well know that I love growing things and making things… This year I’ve decided to try and grow tomatoes, Rocket and French beans on mass to share with my street once the quarantine is over… I hope you enjoy watching their progress! Also maybe when we get back to school we could start a growing project of our own!? Message me with ideas.
I also want to share with you another love of mine, sewing! I have an idea for us, I’ll make the bunting, you send in the messages to each other and when we get back to school we can hang them in celebration of us being together again. Again email me with those words of kindness that you want to share!
Be active – Miss Barnsley Hebrews 13:16 Do good and share with those in need
Never before has an attitude of gratitude been so important. We are blessed with the freedom to chose how we react to things, and our time at home will be so much better if we are grateful, humble and loving.
My challenge for Lent this year was to think of the 3 things I am thankful for every day, and make sure I think these thoughts first thing in the morning, before I even get out of bed! One of these thoughts is ALWAYS about Jesus in one way or another, and it is a wonderful way to start the day!
In our quest to draw nearer to Jesus, helping those in need is a fantastic thing to do. This is literally what Jesus did all throughout his life!!! Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that God loves a cheerful giver, and if we give to others with grace and love, we are doing God’s work and helping to build the kingdom bit by bit.
I have recently spent time helping at the new food bank with my church. I’ve been sorting and delivering food to people who have the greatest need, all across London. Its mind blowing to see the generosity of people, and the words of thanks from the people who receive the goods is truly humbling. So my message to you this week is to do anything you can for others. Keep focused on Jesus, and always chose faith over fear!
Father Marco’s Marvellous Meditations
Read Mark 10:46-52… do you get it?…. we often struggle with placing a gospel reading so try reading the commentary and see if it helps you place the meaning of the passage.
Commentary for Mark 10: 46-52
Mark’s Gospel is widely believed by biblical scholars to have been the first Gospel to have been written, composed in approximately 65 AD. Whilst the episode of the healing of the blind man of Jericho is mentioned in other Gospels, only Mark names him as Bartimaeus, which suggest that either Mark or the earliest readers would have known whom Jesus had healed.
Jesus is in Jericho. For geographers and historians, this place is interesting. Not only is Jericho one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, it is also the oldest known city to have had a protective wall constructed around it. At 846 feet below sea level, in terms of altitude it is also the lowest city n the world.
As a city, there would have been trade between Jericho and Jerusalem. The well-travelled road between these two cities has been mentioned in a famous parable of Jesus, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, found only in Luke’s Gospel.
Bartimaeus, being blind, would have had virtually no options left to him other than to beg. Social discrimination may have also been coupled with religious discrimination as, in the eyes of many Pharisees at the time, there was a link between a person’s sins and their physical condition.
Bartimaeus compensates for the loss of one of his senses by the use of his other senses. Upon hearing that Jesus is approaching, he shouts for all he is worth to gain Jesus’ attention. Despite being unable to “see” Jesus physically, Bartimaeus has a type of “new sight” or “insight” which allows him to recognise Jesus’ true identity as belonging to the House of David, a clue to Jesus’ Messianic identity.
Despite opposition and discouragement from others, Bartimaeus’ persistence is rewarded with a personal encounter with Jesus. With honesty, faith and trust, Bartimaeus’ request is open and to the point, recognising Jesus as his “Rabbuni” (the Aramaic for “My Master”) and the one who can heal him. Jesus restores Bartimaeus’ sight, implying that Bartimaeus had previously had the sense of sight.
Although Jesus announces “Go, your faith has saved you”, Bartimaeus responds with faith, not by leaving Jesus, but by following Jesus on the road. This can be interpreted both as a physical journey but also the journey of a disciple accompanying his Master on the way to accomplishing the Paschal Mystery. Chapter 11 begins with Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem for His Suffering, Passion, Death and Resurrection, an appropriate topic for Lent.
Now, try reading this gospel passage again and using the Lectio guidance on the chaplaincy page to see what spiritual meditation can do for you…
Mrs Bruney’s secular Musings on the importance of mindfulness
So this is a really odd time isn’t it?….
Never before, in our lifetime, have we had to live in isolation, away from extended family and friends. During this time, our wellbeing may well be put to the test and feelings of anxiousness may surface, even for those who usually do not suffer with anxiety.
We all need to look after ourselves during this time. Making a realistic ‘timetable’ is one way to maintain our well being. It’s too easy to lie in bed, not worry about getting dressed, and to generally feel lethargic. This is fine for the odd weekend, but long term, we need to get up, shower, do our work, take exercise and take time for ourselves.
If feelings of anxiety start to manifest, take the time to recognise them, and understand that things will get better. Try and concentrate on things that make you feel good, listen to music you enjoy, take time to do some colouring or drawing and know that these feelings will pass. There are many things we can do to improve our and we will look at these over the coming weeks.
Take care of yourselves and God bless
Our guest writer this week: Mr Kern , Teacher of Art and Graphics writing on the power of honest conversations and truthful prayers…
After having taken my first Holy Communion, my parents threw me a get together with family and I was given a golden crucifix on a chain to wear around my neck. A very sentimental and precious gift indeed.
I’m not sure how, but within a couple of days I’d lost the cross! I looked everywhere, and I looked properly! I didn’t tell my mum, I was mortified. At the following Sunday service I confided in father Andrew and he advised me to pray to Saint Anthony. So I did.
Some weeks past and in the middle of the night I suddenly woke up. I felt something sharp digging into my back. Reaching underneath I pulled out the cross that I had somehow been lying on. A mystery to this day, but I was over the moon, and thanked St Anthony.
My mum has since told me that she knew I’d lost it. Father Andrew had told her because he knew of how distraught that I was, and felt as though my mum ought to know…She could have helped me look for it!
Anyway, roll on fifteen years or so and I lost it again! Although this time I lost the whole chain, as well as a medal of St Christopher that my grandad had given me. Funnily enough he went through a period of saying “how’s my medal” and I’d sheepishly pat my chest and say “yep, I’ve got it on”. So I prayed once more to St Anthony, and this time there was no sharp dig in the middle of the night…
I’d lost the chain over the period of time when I was at university. Visiting my parents one day I decided to rummage through some old boxes in my bedroom. As well as a box of old Beano comics and enough Lego to last a life time, I came across a small jewellery box. upon opening it, I was faced with the chain, cross and medal attached too! In an instant I put it around my neck and haven’t taken it off since.
So, what does this all mean to me? I very rarely misplace things. I’m generally quite an organised person. The fact that I’ve lost something of such significance to me is unusual (despite having lost it twice) But essentially, in times of crisis, I have faith that normality will resume and eventually things have a way of working themselves out. Now, on a daily basis I find myself checking that my chain is intact. and I thank St Anthony for watching over me. I’m also thankful that my Italian mother didn’t chase me around the house with her shoe for losing my first Holy Communion cross…twice.
Mrs H-D’s Horticulture and Crafting…mindfully…;)
“Arm in arm with others we are committed to building a new world”
I hope you enjoyed our first blog and have tried some of the mindfulness tips! This Easter was such a powerful time… I thought I’d have loads of time for crafting but I actually spent most of my time writing a Masters essay and being awoken by Miss Barnsley on House party in order to be put through my paces on an epic work out followed by morning prayer (She still wakes me up now term has begun but even earlier!)
The plants are growing really well and I found myself building wigwams in preparation for the French beans to start their life outdoors. I find that allowing myself some time outdoors even just tying canes together has put my mind in a calm place. Mrs Bruney has some amazing ideas if you haven’t found it so easy!
Finally, While I was studying the Vatican Document: Evangelii Gaudiuma passage really stood out to me as having meaning in this pandemic, and I hope you can take something from it to…
“Follow Jesus fully by entering into the fabric of society, sharing the lives of all, listening to their concerns, helping them materially and spiritually in their needs, rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep… arm in arm with others we are committed to building a new world”
Are you appreciating the quiet moments? The beautiful night skies? The sound of silence? When this is done how will you use this experience to grow and build a better a world?
Social Action – Miss Barnsley
Join with the world to pray 2Chronicles 7:14 “The Lord will heal our land”
Hello everyone, I hope you all had a relaxing Easter break, and still managed to marvel at the majesty of the risen Christ.
Hopefully you managed to watch a Church service online? I am continually hopeful that so many more people might come to know Jesus during this season. There is no better news to hear than this, after all, is there?!
This week, the world has been called to pray 2Chronicles 7:14.“Be humble, pray, ask for forgiveness and the Lord will heal our land.”In times of uncertainty, there is a huge amount of reassurance to take from the fact that our Lord is always faithful, he is always loving and his grace abounds through everything. Let’s put our heads together and pray hard!
God has been so good with what He has provided at the foodbank I’ve been helping with in London. We have fed over 2000 families in need in central London this week, and also provided hot meals to the doctors and nurses at Chelsea and Westminster hospital. We thank the Lord every day for this provision, and ask for your prayers to keep us all “COVID – free” so we can continue this work!
Finally, I am spending more time with God than ever before, and of course as a result my faith is growing stronger and stronger. He is desperate for us, and longs for us to pray big prayers, trust in His every move, and worship His goodness. If every you are feeling anything other than good, just say “Come, Holy Spirit” and wait….. you know your God will be there. Joshua 1:9never fails if in doubt!
Mindful Meditations: Mrs Bruney
Hello! I hope you’ve had a great Easter and managed to differentiate the break from your school schedule. I know, from speaking to a few of you over the last couple of weeks, that at times you are worrying and feeling anxious about the uncertainty this time is bringing. Although it’s almost impossible not to worry, it drains your emotions…if you can’t actually change whatever it is you are worrying about. Practicing mindfulness may help to manage those feelings of worry. Often we rush through life without stopping to notice much of what is around us.
Paying more attention to the present moment, to your own thoughts and feelings, can improve your mental wellbeing. Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us to feel more relaxed and understand ourselves better. With practice, we can train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and realise that thoughts are simply ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.
Try asking yourself ‘Is trying to solve this by worrying helpful, or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts?’.
Mindfulness meditation involves sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, the sensations of breathing or parts of the body, bringing your attention back whenever the mind starts to wander. It does take a lot of practice but by concentrating on the present, rather than worrying about past or future events, will gradually help you to feel calmer and improve your mental wellbeing. There are lots of YouTube audios and videos that you might find helpful. Give if a go, what have you got to lose?
Don Bosco on dealing with epidemics
(Interpreted by Fr Kevin)
With school shut and strange restrictions in place, it has given me some time to read a little of the experiences of Don Bosco. After all, when you’re looking for some courage and hope, go to someone with mega supplies of both! I came across this letter that Don Bosco wrote to his Salesians during the terrible Cholera epidemic in Turin, Italy, in the 1860s. Strange, it feels that he could be writing to us now (except that it is Italian!)
He gave 3 pieces of advice to his Salesians:
- Follow the advice of the authorities and keep yourself healthy;
- If you feel ill, seek medical attention and stay away from others;
- Make time each day for quiet reflection and prayer bringing the challenges of the day to God.
Especially during difficulty and uncertain times, we all could benefit from spending time in quiet reflection and prayer to process the experience. Don Bosco reminds us that we need this quiet time to protect our wellbeing and ability to cope.
Stay safe, stay healthy and if you don’t have to go out….
Our Guest writer this week is Mr Fullbrook, head of year 11
Hebrews 10: 24-25 –‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching’
I have been so inspired by the creative ways people have been able to encourage one another during this difficult time. From huge fundraising efforts like Captain Tom’s inspirational 100 laps (and counting) around his Garden, mass clapping for the NHS every week, to much smaller, less public acts of good will and kindness. Seeing gestures and acts like this, alongside local efforts, like Salesian’s donation of PPE equipment, the staff’s run/cycle/row to Turin (and maybe even further!) are such an encouragement to me to keep on in difficult times. It is so evident that God calls us into a relationship with him and in turn with one another. I am sure we are all longing for that day when we can return to school/ work, see friends and family. This passage in Hebrews has been really helpful in reminding me that it is now more important than ever to keep meeting with one another. Maintaining these relationships, even if it isn’t face to face has been so important. I am so thankful for Apps like Zoom and Facetime which have allowed me to keep that contact going, seeing friends from Church, School and whilst catching up with family. I hope everyone is doing well in the circumstances and I want to encourage everyone to keep spurring one another on!
Mrs H-D’s Horticulture and Crafting…mindfully… 😉
I wonder how you all are and what you are doing to calm your minds and hearts. I don’t know about you but there are periods when I find this time really beautiful and then there are times where I find it really hard. I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves in that place over the past few weeks.
I’m often both in awe and slightly scared of all the amazing things people are doing to help during this time. In our Salesian community there are so many different groups of people trying to make a difference. We have sewing groups washing fabric, cutting and sewing scrubs, we have the Salesian challenge group making sure that their daily exercise counts for something bigger, the PPE masks group … and so many more! However I think there will be some of you out there who might find this quite overwhelming and the thought of doing something bigger scares you. I want you to know that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed… I sometimes have this feeling and I learnt a valuable lesson this week that when I’m struggling to work out some new technology to film a lesson or how to use the button hole foot on my sewing machine (this took a good hour of trial and error) or struggling to work out how to plant the French beans on so that they don’t shrivel that I’ve forgotten to look up and pray…
So I wanted to share some prayer wisdom with you this week, as its often during these more overwhelming times that God wants us to speak out and say what’s on our hearts, in Hebrews 4:16 we are reminded that, “we will find grace to help us when we need it” and I think it’s important to remind yourself that grace is a free gift given to us even when we don’t deserve it so don’t be afraid to ask for God’s grace when something is hard. It’s in Philippians 4:6 that we are reminded to not “worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray and give thanks to him. Then Gods peace will watch over our hearts and minds”
So I challenge you in the coming week to try and follow the advice above and “Cast all your anxieties on God because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5 . Hand over your worries and you might be surprised at the outcome.
Be active: Social Justice with Barnsley- Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
It’s been another busy week at the food bank in London, and as always I have been overwhelmed by God’s ability to provide in abundance when prayer is involved. There are 8 of us working there, and as of yet, none of us have had any symptoms of COVID-19. This seems like a small miracle, but we have all been praying for God’s protection over the foodbank, and it seems to be working!
Sometimes it can be hard to feel God’s presence close, and it may feel like our prayers aren’t heard, or that we are not worthy….This is perfectly natural, and the best thing about Christianity is that our faith is all about a relationship. Jesus suffered so that we don’t have to. God became man in order to fully understand our hearts, and no matter how far we feel from God, we have to have faith that he can take away our fears and anxieties.
This week I have been bogged down in my own world, and have been stressed about things I can’t control. I am reminded by my friends every day, that when we feel like this the first person we have to turn to is God. God already knows how we are feeling, he knows what is on our heart and God is also truly faithful. When I stopped for even 2 seconds to ask God for help or even just to look up or raise my arms in frustration, God hears me! I am very comforted by that.
In a dream world, we would all be able to get up early, go into a quiet place, and spend some time with God every day. But in today’s world, that is simply not realistic every day.
There are 3 things I like to remind myself of in prayer:
- Keep it simple – God knows anyway, but praying keeps us humble and keeps the relationship strong.
- Keep it real – don’t be afraid to come to him with your sins. You are forgiven!
- Keep it going – Like a good Father and friend, God will be there waiting.
Mindful Meditations with Mrs Bruney
So as we progress through week 5 of restricted movement, hopefully you’re getting into a routine that works for you and that enables you to look after your emotional well being. Last week, I wrote about mindfulness and how it’s a really useful tool for relaxing and calming ourselves down. Another form of mindfulness that I find really helpful when thoughts are crowding my mind, or when I am finding the pace of life a bit too fast or stressful, is Visualisation. Visualisation takes the form of thinking about a scene or a place that you find peaceful and relaxing. It should be a place that offers you peace, safety and security, and can be either real or made up.
To practice visualisation, begin by either sitting or lying down comfortably with your eyes closed, preferably in a room where you won’t be disturbed. Next, bring to mind a peaceful and relaxing scene; this might be a sandy beach, a meadow, a church, a quiet room or anywhere you want to be. Imagine yourself in this place and begin to notice what’s around you. What colours can you see? What objects are around? Are there trees and if so, are they swaying or still? What can you hear? Are there any smells present? What physical sensations do you feel?
Continue with these thoughts, perhaps imagining the breeze brushing across your face and body; is it warm, what smells does it carry? Can you feel the warmth of the sun, or is there a chill in the air? What sounds are present – can you hear birdsong/the ocean lapping against the shore/music in the distance/church bells ringing, or do you hear nothing at all? Bring alive your senses, becoming aware of what they bring to mind and how they make you feel. Every part of your body is now relaxed and you feel calm, content and safe.
Visualisation gets easier with practice and you might find that in time, you can slip in and out of these relaxing thoughts for no more than a few seconds at a time, anytime, anywhere, during periods of anxiousness or stress, and become calmer almost instantly.
Father Marcos Marvellous Meditations
Read Mark 4: 35-41 “The calming of the storm”.
With the coming of evening that same day, he said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him.
Then it began to blow a great gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, ‘Master, do you not care? We are lost! And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet now! Be calm!’ And the wind dropped and there followed a great calm.
Then he said to them, ‘Why are you so frightened? Have you still no faith?’ They were overcome with awe and said to one another, ‘Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.’
We often struggle with placing a Gospel reading so try reading the commentary and see if it helps you place the meaning of the passage.
It may be helpful to place this passage in context. The preceding passages see Jesus teaching the crowds using parables viz. short stories using contemporary images to convey a message about the Kingdom of God. In this passage of the Calming of the Storm, Jesus teaches not by example, but by action, leaving His disciples dumbfounded. Having taught the People of Israel, he arrives at the other side of the lake, to preach to Gentiles (non-Jewish) people.
Jesus’ calm in the face of great danger baffles the disciples. Four of the disciples – Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John – were experienced fishermen and would have been used to the sudden and violent squalls that can take place on lakes in the Holy Land, yet even these were frightened.
Jesus here shows his power, authority and thus his divinity by His rule over the forces of nature just as in Genesis 1 we see God bringing order out of chaos. Hence we see that in this episode, as in our own times, chaos will yield to order.
The disciples and the first Christians, particularly from a Jewish background, would have been familiar with the words of Psalm 106 (107):
“By his word he raised a storm-wind,
lashing up towering waves.
Up to the sky then down to the depths!
Their stomachs were turned to water;
they staggered and reeled like drunkards,
and all their skill went under.
They cried out to Yahweh in their distress,
he rescued them from their plight,
he reduced the storm to a calm,
and all the waters subsided,
and he brought them, overjoyed at the stillness,
to the port where they were bound.’ (New Jerusalem Bible published by Darton, Longman & Todd).
Hence it is no surprise that Christians, from the origins of the Church to today, have found comfort in this parable. Whether you draw inspiration from the Church fathers, who saw in the boat a symbol of the Church buffeted by the waves of persecution yet saved from going down, to Christians today who see the virtue of complete trust in God in times of distress and challenge, the Gospel continues to console and inspire.
Mrs H-D’s Horticulture and Crafting…mindfully… 😉
This has been a week of firsts! After planting the tomatoes and French beans all those weeks ago the first fruits of this labour have appeared! The amount of care and attention that goes into cultivating your own produce is amazing… It got me thinking, if we cared for ourselves like I’ve cared for these plants how might both our physical and mental health be improved?
The seeds are first placed in a safe, warm, sunny area where they are encouraged to grow. They are given water, shelter and an occasional song from yours truly (Singing to plants encourages them to grow because scientifically it increases carbon dioxide in the air which for some reason helps J)… after this initial phase two small leaves normally appear and they need to be given more room to grow but not so much that it scares them… When they have become stronger and the last frosts of the year have disappeared it is time to take the scary step of moving them outdoors… if done too abruptly this can shock the plants and cause them to wilt so this step is done gradually over a few days where eventually they can remain out of doors. This, however is just the beginning because now they need to carefully be attended to, given water and fertilizer to grow and their leaves need to be clipped to encourage productivity…
Imagine if you took this time to nurture yourself in this way, where your physical and mental health might be? This week I want you to consider where is that safe sunny spot you can go to find peace and quiet to help you grow? How do you water (nurture) yourself? Do you play a game of chess, call a friend, build a putting green in your back garden like one of my tutees? What is it you do to nurture you? Like the plants eventually we have to be potted on to more difficult, hardy places, for example like when you moved from primary to secondary school?
If you don’t nurture yourself today you risk being caught by the frost like the plants and wilt and your mental health could suffer without the right care. It is so important that you tend to yourself because we are as delicate as these wonderful plants… This week take inspiration from this. Taking time to nurture your body and soul, to just be… Jesus more than anyone showed us that quiet space was necessary to become stronger and he more than anyone encourage people to grow through nurture so take a leaf out of his book (get it leaf… plants… nurture, shame I don’t have drum kit to do a ‘ba bum ching’ J ) Happy Half term!
Hopefully this week you have had an opportunity to see the images shared on social media to encourage and inspire and hopefully to help you on your journey to nurture your own mental health. If you haven’t, see them below and maybe choose one and try it…
Be active: Social Justice with Barnsley
This week has been another busy one, but thankfully time with God has allowed me time to stop, think and connect.
I have been reading the beatitudes closely this week, and one in particular has spoken to me.
“Blessed are those who hunger and Thirst for Righteousness, for they will be filled.”
I really believe as Christians and citizens of this Earth, we need to make thins right for people who have been dealt a bad hand. Weather that means being kind to the isolated, phoning a friend, standing up for someone if they have been spoken to badly, or indeed addressing the bigger issues of poverty and persecution in our world.
We should feel pain for those who have it harder than we do. This is why in the Bible it uses the words “hunger and thirst.”
Please lets be praying for how we make our work a better place, and help His Kingdom come!
Mindful Meditations: Mental health awareness week
Hello! As you will be aware, this week is Mental Health Awareness week and if you follow Salesian School on social media, you will have seen our daily tips for good mental health. Today, as we break for another half term, I want to remind you of the 5 things that can help with maintaining good mental health.
- Connect – Connecting with friends and family can not only support you emotionally but allow you to support others too. It can be a time to share positive experiences and build a sense of self worth. As we are living in difficult and challenging times, it is not always easy to connect in ways we would normally would. If it is not possible to meet up with a friend or family member, why not try video calls, using Facetime, Microsoft Teams or Zoom; you can chat with one person or invite others to join you – make the most of the technology you have!!
- Be Active – Physical activity is not only good for your physical well being but also your mental well being. It can help to raise your self esteem and can positively change your mood. Why not engage with the Salesian Challenge or House events that are on the Salesian You Tube channel? Now that restricted movement has been lifted slightly, it is easier to get out for a walk, run or bike ride. Make the most of the superb weather and get moving.
- Learn a New Skill – Although we are all still working hard from home, there has probably never been a better time to learn a new skill. There are lots of free courses on line right now so why not make the most of the time we have to engage in something that interests you? If you don’t want to do a course, perhaps you might find enjoyment in baking, sewing, gardening, writing, drawing, a DiY project …… the list is endless. Developing a new skill can be a great way to feel a sense of achievement and can also help you to connect with others.
- Giving – acts of giving and kindness not only impact your mental well being but that of those around you. Think how nice it feels to receive a compliment or to hear someone say thank you for something you have done. Giving can be a smile, a kind word, an offer of help or even just a thank you. Make someone’s day – give an act of kindness.
- Pay Attention (mindfulness) – We have talked about this in previous weeks; how ‘just being’ can have an enormous impact on your mental well being and bring you a feeling of inner calm. This doesn’t have to be meditation but can be simply taking a few minutes out of your day to notice the things around you; the things you can see, smell, hear . . . . Just by slowing down the hectic lives we lead, for even 5 minutes, can be hugely beneficial. Give it a gov and reap the rewards of a calm mind . . . . .
Father Marcos Scriptural meditation
Luke 5: 1-11
Now it happened that he was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats at the water’s edge. the fishermen had got out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ Simon replied, ‘Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these case, they filled both boats to sinking point.
When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely awestruck at the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is people you will be catching.’ Then, bringing their boats to land they left everything and followed him.
Luke’s version of the call of the first four disciples adds the location, no doubt to make the event more ‘real’ for the first audience who could name and place this area. Luke also mentions Jesus’ preaching and miracles of healing beforehand which makes their unhesitating response to Jesus’ call less surprising.
Simon is referred to here as Simon Peter; a pun is intended, made clearer in Matthew 16: 16 and in John’s Gospel, that “Peter” is a “Rock” for “Petros” in Greek means just that. Jesus sees that the solidity of Peter and of his faith will be crucial to the preaching of the Kingdom of God and the establishment of the Church.
The phrase of Jesus viz. ‘put out into deep water’ was echoed by Pope St. John Paul the Second in his work “Duc In Altum” stressing the need that Christians need not be afraid when, taken out of their comfort zone, they are working for the sake of the Kingdom of God. The reference to deep water in this episode may signify both risk and opportunity in fulfilling God’s Will.
The fishermen’s obedience to the Carpenter’s Son – following advice from someone without a background in fishing – is surprising and yet their obedience and faith are rewarded with a superabundance of fish. This results in Simon Peter falling to his knees in the presence of this miracle, Simon’s action one of awe and humility in the presence of the Divine.
Jesus, having transformed their daily human activity into one with unparalleled superabundance, then further transforms the disciples themselves by making them ‘fishers of men’ (the traditional translation) which invites and incorporates simple, humble workers into God’s plan for the world. This passage speaks to many Christians as work, offered honestly to God even in the most difficult of circumstances, can be both transformed and transforming.
What would Don Bosco do? Interpreted by Fr Kevin
When Don Bosco was in his 30s, he borrowed a horse to travel the distance of 15 miles from Turin to his Mother’s home at Becchi because the weather was stormy. When he was returning that night, his horse reared up and he fell off, breaking his collar bone and arm. When he awoke, he crawled to a nearby farmhouse and knocked on the door. This was dangerous because, with bandits and robbers around, farmers tended to shoot at strangers. The door opened and the farmer immediately helped him in, found his horse and took care of him until he recovered a few days later. Back in Turin, they were really worried because no-one knew where Don Bosco was. When he felt better, Don Bosco asked the farmer why he had taken such a risk in opening his door. The farmer told him that over 20 years earlier he had been desperate. He was starving because the crops had failed. He found a little house where a young widow, with 3 small boys, took him in and gave him some food and some of the old clothes of her dead husband. This gave him the courage to keep going. Don Bosco remembered that occasion because it was his own Mother whom the farmer was talking about. His Mother, Margaret, had given the farmer the courage to go on. Now the farmer gave Don Bosco that same courage. He had been seriously thinking about giving up his project of working with young people because he was running out of money.
It’s times like these….
Mr Legrand reflects on the Foo Fighters, Pope Francis, and how we can ‘learn to live again’.
Please watch the music stars performing Foo Fighters’ ‘Times Like These’ if you missed the Big Night In. Please do so not only because it is my favourite song, but also because of the inspirational chorus:
It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these, time and time again
We are surrounded by great stories of people ‘giving’ and ‘loving’: Salesian staff making PPE, Captain Tom doing his walk for the NHS, the efforts of key workers – social media is full of countless examples. You too are learning to ‘love’ and learning to ‘give’ by staying home and social distancing to save lives. Like all learning, this presents moments of joy alongside moments of challenge but will always be rewarding in the end.
But how, I hear you ask, are we learning to ‘live again’ in times when we have restrictions on what we can do and where we can go?
Let us reflect on the release of the original song in 2002 for a moment. Foo Fighters were writing about consumerism and how the desire to own more was holding people back from living their lives. The message of the song is that consumerism stops people from realising what mattered. Reforming after a hiatus, the band were celebrating rediscovering what was important during difficult times, hence ‘it’s times like these you learn to live again’. The music video sees Foos playing the song under the Mojave River Bridge in California whilst members of the public throw away objects that distract them over the side of the bridge.
Jesus made a similar message to ‘Times Like These’ in Matthew 6 that people ‘cannot serve God and money’. Put simply: our desire to have more is stopping us being more and we need to throw certain things away to realise what matters.
Sadly, we often do not realise that we have stopped ourselves living to the full because we were focusing on other distractions. Pope Francis recognised this when he tweeted recently that:
We find it easier to live in darkness because the light reveals to us
what we do not want to see. But then our eyes become accustomed
to the darkness and we no longer recognise the light.
We sometimes fail to recognise what it means to ‘live’ (the light) because we have become accustomed (used to) certain distractions (the darkness). I challenge you to use times like these as Foos intended to ‘learn to live [in the light] again’, throw away the distractions, and focus on three areas of your life:
- Health. Personally, I am now getting more sleep, drinking less caffeine, and eating breakfast (a meal I used to tell myself I didn’t have time for). What bad habits do you need to throw away?
- Relationships. Now that my wife and I are working from home together we go for a walk together every day, take a tea break together at least once a day, and eat all our meals together. What distractions and excuses that stop you spending time with others can you throw away?
- Is now a time to make prayer a habit in your life, or to speak to a friend or family member about their faith, or to commit to reading a bit of the Bible every day? Is now the time to throw away scepticism and doubt? In John 10 Jesus says that he has come ‘that they might have life and have it to the full’, is it time to see what this means?
Pope Francis’ darkness can be overcome by Foo Fighters ‘light blinding bright’; it’s time to consider how the light of health, relationships, and faith can remove the darkness to allow us ‘to live again’.
(Left to right: Pope Francis, Foo Fighters music video, stars performing in April 2020 – Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters middle right)
Mrs H-D’s Horticulture and Crafting…mindfully… 😉
This week Fr Marco has written about the road to Emmaus and one thing really stood out to me in this Bible passage… “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us” Cleopus and his friend hadn’t recognised Jesus at first (transformed by the resurrection he looked very different) but when he spoke and they sat with him his words were like a fire burning in their soul…
This week I want to challenge you to find that cause which makes your soul burn!
Last week two images set my soul on fire! These terrible images arose from around the globe. Racism at its worse in the death of an innocent man George Floyd killed by those who promise to protect and be indiscriminate and an image taken at Durdledoor of people mindlessly taking advantage of this beauty spot by leaving their rubbish and not respecting the places that are for everyone. Yet, out of these images also rose images of hope, people standing together to fight against racism, signing petitions and all races stand in arm in arm to call out wrong and quiet groups of people collecting rubbish that wasn’t their own from places that are usually left untouched.
These are two completely different causes. One asks us to fight for our fellow humankind and requires considerable empathy for those who experience discrimination that is beyond belief and experience and the other asks us to fight to be stewards of a world that is constantly used and abused with little thought of the consequence. So I challenge you to allow your heart to be set on fire by causes that matter! I challenge you read the news and be affected by it in such away that want to sign a petition against wrong, or organise a clean up in your local beauty spots… Set your heart on fire and be inspired by the actions of countless people that earnestly hear that “we are stewards of Gods creation” remembering that this world is for everyone and therefore everyone is responsible even if its not your mess.
Be active: Social Justice with Barnsley
Acts 2:4 And they were filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit
Miss H-D hits the nail on the head with her blog spot this week. Its so so important to hunger and thirst for righteousness in our world. Jesus uses the words hunger and thirst in the beatitudes because as Christians, our desire for justice and peace should almost be painful for us. We should cry out for justice as much as we cry out for water when we are thirsty. I know this seems a bit extreme, but actually we are called to a life of seeking to do what is right no matter what!!
I urge you never to be afraid to speak out for what is wrong in this world. Jesus warns us that we might be persecuted but it s a risk we have to take!
Pentecost was on Sunday, and it is a day I waited for with eager anticipation!! The Holy Spirit is such a powerful thing, and you never know what it might bring to those who ask. The promise that we have as Christians is that if we ask for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives, it will!
So as you go on through this time of lock-down, keep asking the Holy Spirit to move in powerful ways, and be expectant of what He might do in your life! And when you feel the fire of the Holy Spirit in you, go out and use it to spread the Good News!!!
Mindful Meditations with Mrs Bruney
I hope you have had a lovely half term and enjoyed the sunshine.
Today I want to talk to you about grief and loss. Sadly, particularly during this current time, it is likely that we will be touched by the loss of a loved one or somebody we know will be affected.
When somebody dies, it is natural to feel sad, depressed, worried, angry or even nothing at all. A feeling of anger may come because you were not ready for that person to leave you or you might be angry because you feel their death could have been avoided. Everyone reacts differently and in their own way. Grief is what we feel, it is the emotional response to the event of death. It can impact our social, physical and emotional health.
In addition to feeling sadness or pain, you may feel nothing at all, or experience a feeling of numbness. Again, this is all perfectly natural and however you feel, that is your way of dealing with the loss and therefore the feelings are right for you. You may not feel the way you expected to feel and that too is ok.
It can take time to work through grief and during this time, friends, family and your faith are all likely to be of comfort. If you find yourself not feeling pain or sadness, it doesn’t mean you didn’t care enough for the person who has died; you are allowed to move on with your life without thinking, grieving or mourning every day. This is part of the grieving process and it allows us to ‘grow around’ our grief. That means that as our life experiences grow, our grief doesn’t necessary lessen but in comparison, it gets smaller which lets us carry on without the intensity of pain or sadness we may have felt initially.
As time passes, you may find it helpful to communicate your grief and release some thoughts and feelings. You can do this in a number of different ways. Some ideas might be
- Writing a letter to the person who has died, telling them all the things you want to say
- Creating a memory box/jar and filling it with items that remind you of that person
- You could write memories on individual pieces of paper, fold them up and put them in the memory box. When you feel sad, select a folded memory from the box and read it, reminding yourself of happier times
- Keep a diary of how you feel, remembering that some days it is ok not to be ok in the same way as it’s ok to be ok!
- Rate your mood each day to see that some days are better than others
- Express yourself through drawing/painting
It’s important to remember that grief has no timescale but it will get easier as time goes on and your life experiences grow. You will not always feel the way you did at the beginning of your grief. I want to share with you a poem by Averil Stedford which really encompasses how hard it can be to allow ourselves to ‘let go’ of feelings of sadness but then moves on to easier times.
The Heavy Stone
My grief was a heavy stone,
Rough and sharp.
Grasping to pick it up
My hands were cut.
Afraid to let it go
I carried it.
While I had my grief
You were not lost.
The rain of my tears
The wind of my rage
Making it round and small.
The cuts in my hands have
Now in my palm it rests,
Sometimes almost beautiful,
Sometimes almost you.
Be kind to yourself and those suffering around you.
Take care x
Father Marcos Scriptural meditation on Luke 24: 13-35: The Road to Emmaus
13 On that same day two of Jesus’ followers were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed, Jesus himself drew near and walked along with them; 16 they saw him, but somehow did not recognize him. 17 Jesus said to them, “What are you talking about to each other, as you walk along?”
They stood still, with sad faces. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have been happening there these last few days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “This man was a prophet and was considered by God and by all the people to be powerful in everything he said and did. 20 Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. 21 And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free! Besides all that, this is now the third day since it happened. 22 Some of the women of our group surprised us; they went at dawn to the tomb, 23 but could not find his body. They came back saying they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. 24 Some of our group went to the tomb and found it exactly as the women had said, but they did not see him.”
25 Then Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, how slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! 26 Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?” 27 And Jesus explained to them what was said about himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with the books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther; 29 but they held him back, saying, “Stay with us; the day is almost over and it is getting dark.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 He sat down to eat with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Wasn’t it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up at once and went back to Jerusalem, where they found the eleven disciples gathered together with the others 34 and saying, “The Lord is risen indeed! He has appeared to Simon!”
35 The two then explained to them what had happened on the road, and how they had recognized the Lord when he broke the bread.
This passage is immediately preceded by the Resurrection of Jesus experienced by Joanna, Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of James. Disbelieved by the Eleven Apostles, the other women also testified to the Resurrection of Jesus. Only Peter at this time appeared open to this message, rushing off to the empty tomb, amazed at what he had seen.
On the same day, two disciples are making their way to the village of Emmaus, the specific location of which is unknown. The word “Emmaus” is believed to come via Greek and Latin from the Hebrew “hamma” or “hammat” meaning “warm spring”. Many villages throughout the region are called “Hama”.
Jesus approaches the two disciples who, for some reason do not recognise him. Perhaps one reason may be that they were not expecting Jesus to be alive; a common occurrence is that people are often unrecognised when their presence is not expected at a particular time or place. However it may be argued that the body of the post-Resurrection Jesus has a quality about it that modifies its exterior form.
The two disciples narrate their belief in Jesus and the account of some of their fellow disciples, Peter and possibly John as well, who went to the tomb. Their narration sets out their beliefs, expectations and dashed hopes in Jesus.
Jesus then explains the Paschal Mystery to them, viz. the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of the Messianic Suffering Servant is part and parcel of God’s saving plan. The two disciples on the road, having been scandalized (from the Greek meaning to “trip over”)by Jesus’ Crucifixion and death – a concept that continues to scandalize certain monotheists throughout the Middle East and beyond – now have the luxury of Jesus explaining Himself to them using the Scriptures.
The passage above, rather like Acts 8 whereby the Scriptures are explained by Philip the Apostle to the Ethiopian eunuch, demonstrate the necessity of Sacred Scripture being correctly interpreted; in the first case, when Jesus speaks on the road to Emmaus, in the second case, when Philip teaches the eunuch. The Catholic position is that whenever Sacred Scripture is proclaimed, it is Christ Himself who speaks.
Having had their hearts “set on fire” by Christ’s explanation of the scriptures to them, they are now in a receptive frame of mind to see Christ in another way. Having seen Him in bodily form and heard him in the Scriptures, they now witness the Risen Jesus in the form of bread and wine, broken and shared, a clear Eucharistic action that would not have escaped the attention of the primitive Church. As St. Augustine of Hippo once taught, “it is in the sacraments that we see Jesus face to face”, Christ revealing Himself to His believers in His Body and Blood.
Mrs H-D’s Horticulture and Crafting…mindfully… 😉 Week 7
Last week we encouraged you to think about a cause that sets your heart on fire! This of course is really important and easy way to find out what moves you and makes you want to create a change is by looking at different organisations that try and make change happen.
Green Peace are currently running a petition on food standards and Amnesty International encourage you to join petitions for people who don’t have a voice. It is definitely something to speak to your parents about as you will need their permission to sign and in some cases they will need to be the ones that do but I encourage you no matter how old you are to start those conversations and make your voice heard even if it has to be through your parents.
Fr Marco writes this week about the parable of the treasure and the pearl which encourages us to build the Kingdom of God here on Earth. To do this we have promote, Justice, Peace and reconciliation and maybe getting your family to put their names to some important causes could be the start.
Finally I encourage you this week to connect with your friends whether that a socially distanced meet up or a house party/ Zoom party. Yesterday three of my best friends came to spend the evening in my garden where we had a socially distanced dinner and it made me feel so happy, so why not try and do the same this week?
Be active: Social Justice with Barnsley – Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God
Spend time with Jesus!!
This is my message for this week. I have once again been overwhelmed by the ability of our good good Lord to anoint our prayers and listen to us. Sometimes (oftentimes!!) it is really hard to find a quiet spot and just be still, and spend time with God. Especially when we are trying to juggle more and more now that live lesson have started too. But the difference it makes when you start your day with Jesus is immeasurable!
I have been praying this prayer this week “Speak Lord, your servant is listening. Use me to help build your Kingdom.” This is all about knowing deep down that we are here to serve our Lord, and that things we do in our day to day lives should be done in order that others feel the love of Christ too.
I challenge you this week to just spend time with the Lord, and be still in his presence. Ask him for guidance on how He can use you to build the Kingdom here on Earth. Sometimes it can also be easy to feel lonely even if there are lots of people around you, but being sure in the knowledge that God is with you is the most reassuring thing you can ask for.
Mindful Meditations with Mrs Bruney
I hope you’ve had a good week and are enjoying your ‘remote’ learning.
As time goes on and restrictions ease, many of you may be beginning to return to school, albeit on a part time basis. This understandably might throw up some anxieties related to Covid 19 and the fear of keeping both you and your family safe, particularly if you haven’t been outside of your home very much over the last 3 months.
Feeling anxious about something we don’t fully understand is a natural reaction for some. Be assured that school is doing all that is possible to keep you safe. For those of you that haven’t yet been back into school, there are hand sanitisers around the site and wipes/sanitisers outside every classroom that is occupied. Each class operates a one pupil per desk policy and students do not move around the school; you stay in the same seat/room for the whole day (unless you are doing a practical lesson). The classrooms are also being cleaned each evening and common areas are being cleaned throughout the day. You are very welcome to wipe down your own workstation each day if this is something you would like to do. You may also wear a face mask if you wish.
Thinking about the anxiety you may feel, it might help to consider the things you can control rather than the things you can’t. You can
wash your hands regularly
use hand sanitisers and wipes
catch your cough or sneeze in a tissue and dispose of it
wear a face mask, keep 2 metres apart from others . . . . .
None of us can ‘see’ the virus but we can follow guidelines around keeping ourselves safe. These are things we do have some control over.
If you are still feeling anxious about returning to school or college, speak to one of your teachers or Head of Year. They will be able to reassure you that we are doing all that is possible to keep you safe. You can also ensure you are keeping to the safety rules as an extra layer of protection. You could try writing your ‘anxious thoughts’ down and then think about how you can change that thought,
Is it rational?
Can you do anything to change the situation?
Consider what you can do rather than what you can’t
What positives can you draw from the thought?
Who can you talk to about the way you are feeling?
Keep a diary of your thoughts to include positive thoughts as well as negative
Come into school or college and see if your fears are reduced
We are all here to support you and to address any concerns you may have so don’t hesitate to reach out and let’s take the next steps in these uncertain times together.
Father Marcos Scriptural meditation on
Matthew 13: 44-46
The parables of the treasure and the pearl.
“The kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off in his joy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.
“Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.”
A parable in the New Testament is a short story told by Jesus, using contemporary images, that help to explain an aspect of the Kingdom of God. In these two very short parables, found only in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us that no one who discovers the kingdom of Heaven can enter it without leaving all behind.
This echoes another teaching of Jesus in the same Gospel, when Jesus says that “where your heart is, there will your treasure be.” (Matthew 6:21) Self-sacrifice, devotion, authenticity and commitment are needed when orienting one’s life towards God the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son, in the Holy Spirit and expressed in love for God and neighbour in union with the Church.
Our Guest writer this week is Br Vincent
The good Zaccheus…
The episode of Jesus meeting Zaccheus is always an interesting read. Somehow it has a certain simplicity and earthiness about it. Perhaps it has to do with Zaccheus climbing the tree – a joyful, children’s play.
However, contrary to popular belief that since Zaccheus was a tax collector and hence certainly a corrupt official, I think that he was basically a good and honest person, all along. First of all, to believe that all – everyone? – tax collectors were cheats, would be too much of an exaggeration. Not fair! There certainly would have been some kind-hearted ones – at least a handful in a whole nation! Secondly, for one to immediately have a change of heart, that too so radically is not really possible. That the confession and repentance was genuine, we know from Jesus’ interaction with him. Jesus would have called his lie, if Zaccheus wasn’t speaking from his heart. So Zaccheus would basically have been a good man, with perhaps some illegal dealings once in a way; and that dishonesty would have been stirring his conscience over time. The encounter with Jesus actually is the tipping point.
And practically speaking, if he were that corrupt, repaying back all those whom he cheated, four times over that too after giving away half his property to the poor, would have made him an utter destitute! He would have had to borrow in order to repay them all!!
Time to do Time to be
Times are beginning to change and I don’t know about you but I often find shifts and changes daunting. When this happens it’s easy to forget to ask for guidance and to remember that the phrase, ‘offer it up’ is an apt thing to do when we are unsure of our next step. So I’ve included some scripture inspiration for you to reflect on this week because when in doubt people who have gone before often have the inspiration to remind us that we are seldom alone!
Be active: Social Justice with Barnsley
The power of answered prayer
This week has been quite an incredible week, and the most significant thing I’ve learned is to trust your heart because that is where God speaks!!!
It’s been so amazing to be back in school teaching, but as life as somewhat starting to get normal, it has been important for me to make sure that I don’t fall back into bad habits. My personal bad habits are working all the time and non stop, and feeling overwhelmed easily with too many things to do, and I am pretty bad at taking time to myself. I decided to just listen to God and let him also listen to my heart. I have also been so so amazed once again at the power of prayer, as my friends have also been praying for peace and for me to make the right decisions in my life.
The point of this is that you don’t have to have Crazy faith, you just have to have Baby faith, and trust God with all your heart, that the right decisions will be made.
God made you, loves you and always has plans to prosper and not to harm you. Praise Him always for this!
Mindful Meditations with Mrs Bruney
So after approximately 3 months of getting used to a new way of learning, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear your motivation could be waning. Sound about right? Do you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall? ….
I think the first thing to say is don’t beat yourself up about it too much; you undoubtedly are not alone. Many of us will now have reached a point where it’s difficult to get motivated and continue to plough through the work being set. Some of you may be experiencing exactly the opposite; perhaps you found it difficult at the start of lockdown to get your head around home learning, and the new technology that enables us to participate in live lessons with teacher’s from our own homes, but now find yourselves embracing the whole concept.
For those of you that are struggling, let’s try and find ways to get you back on track. Have you tried making yourself a home learning timetable?
This could look similar to the school day, incorporating breaks and exercise as well as the various Teams meetings you are invited to attend. This would help you to see a start and end time for each task, enabling you to structure your day in manageable chunks. If you know that it’s particularly difficult to be motivated at a certain time, e.g. 2pm, choose that time to incorporate a rest/movement break and to have a snack. It might just give you a boost that enables you to plough through to the next stage of your learning timetable. Try not to cram too much into one day thinking it might give you a free day later in the week; it’s best to have definitive school days and rest days so keep weekends free for doing the activities you would usually enjoy and keep Monday-Friday for doing school/college work. Although this will undoubtedly be tough at times, if, in the main, you can stick to a routine, it will certainly be beneficial over the coming weeks. It’s also worth remembering that should you have a blip in routine, tomorrow’s another day and you can start afresh. Keep well, stay positive and happy studying.
Father Marcos Scriptural meditation on:
Matthew 14:13-21 (New Jerusalem Bible)
When Jesus received this news he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where that could be by themselves. But the crowds heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.
When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place, and time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they answered, ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’ So he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’
He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves he handed them to his disciples, who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps left over, twelve baskets full. Now about five thousand men had eaten, to say nothing of women and children.
This passage is preceded by the beheading of St. John the Baptist which, in a sense, draws to a close the preparatory work of John and opens the way to the mission of Jesus Christ whom John pointed out elsewhere in the Gospels as the “Lamb of God”.
This miracle is seen as the first miracle of the loaves since there is a very similar one that takes place later. Whilst some modern interpretations see this as a ‘miracle of sharing’ in which everyone took out their food following Jesus’ example, this does not seem to fit in with the understanding of the earliest Christian community. Many of the earliest Christians would have had a Jewish background, hence the multiplication of loaves would have reminded them of the power of God working through the prophet Elisha in 2 Kings 4: 1-7, 42-44.
The symbolism of the twelve baskets is significant. Each basket represents one of the tribes of Israel, meaning that the life and mission of Jesus Christ will satisfy the spiritual hunger of the descendants of Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. The number twelve also represents the college of Apostles. It is interesting that Matthew sets this miracle on the western side of the lake, inhabited by the Jews. The other version, with seven baskets (representing the Gentile or non-Jewish nations) is set on the eastern, Gentile side of the lake.
Just as God fed His people in the desert through Moses, so Jesus feeds his people, not only with a superabundance of physical food but also with the “food” of his life, teaching and very person Himself.
The actions of Jesus in this miracle have a remarkable parallel in the Last Supper, similarities certainly not lost on the Early Church. Bread offered, received, the raising of eyes to heaven (this action is replicated by the priest during Eucharistic Prayer 1, the “Roman Canon”), the breaking of bread and the distribution to the people via the disciples is a Eucharistic anticipation par excellence, satisfying those who ate. Indeed, “mere mortals ate the bread of angels” (Psalm 77: 25) and “instead of these things you gave your people food of angels, and without their toil you supplied them from heaven with bread ready to eat, providing every pleasure and suited to every taste.” (Wisdom 16: 20).
It is interesting to note that, in her book “Not Counting Women and Children” by Megan McKenna, the author notes that in any crowd, men will usually be outnumbered by women and children. Therefore the author suggests that the total number of people whose physical and spiritual hunger were satisfied in this miracle could have exceeded ten thousand. This number itself is dwarfed by the millions of Catholic Christians who celebrate the wondrous Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist every Sunday. This is also celebrated annually by the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ or “Corpus Christi” by Whose Grace the effects of our faith, hope and love are multiplied.
Guest Writer Mr Hunt on “Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the Earth?” Job 38:33
A few evenings ago I was squinting at the distant dot of the SpaceX Dragon as it hurtled across the horizon from Earth to the ISS. I experienced a swelling of pride to be a tiny part of the global community of Physicists who make space travel possible. I can’t claim any direct involvement with launching rockets, but by passing on the laws of Physics to Salesian students, I am equipping the scientists of the future to do even more amazing things for the good of the world. But, even the greatest Astrophysicists at NASA would struggle to say where the laws of physics come from. Scientists simply accept that the universe follows a complex set of delicate rules, which apply equally to every point in time and space.
On the 21st November 2011 I finally lost my argument with God. Since 2009 I had seen miraculous and inexplicable things happening in my life, and my lifelong atheism was being gradually shaken to pieces. Despite this, I was not prepared to believe in a God who clearly broke these laws of Physics, which I had been learning and teaching for the last fourteen years. Anything which broke these laws could not exist in the universe, however much my heart was telling me the opposite.
On this particular night, I had just finished ‘The Case for Christ’, in which lawyer Lee Strobel shows that, in court, the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus would be rock solid. The paperback finishes with a reference to the book of Job, believed to be the oldest part of the Bible. I picked up the NLT Bible I had reluctantly received when I got married, and read Job for myself. Job challenges God with the unfairness of his life, and at the finale, God shows up in a whirlwind to respond.
“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them… Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the Earth?” Job 38:1,2,3,33
I felt that the Lord of the universe had turned up in person in my living room to answer my argument with him. The reason the universe follows rules is because it has a ruler. The laws of Physics are God’s own tools which he uses to regulate his creation. Of course he can break and bend them if he feels the need. What matters most is not whether God can answer every one of my questions about him, but whether I can answer his questions about me!
I finally had to concede defeat. There was a Lord in charge of science, in charge of the universe and in charge of my life. I needed a drastic re-think, and that had to start with an apology to God for being so ungrateful and stubborn, when he had been so kind to me and my loved ones. I quickly read aloud the believer’s prayer at the start my Bible, and then went to bed, hoping things would go back to normal in the morning. Needless to say, my life never did go back to normal, but that really is another story…
Time to do Time to be…
“You are unique, an irreplaceable work of God: Be who you are and be that well” St Francis de Sales Well… This week we had our first crop of French beans and I think by tomorrow we will have our first ripe tomato J can you believe all those months ago when they were simply seeds in the ground and yet today they are fully fledged vegetables. I’ve had some let downs along the way, the peas I over watered and the spring onions got too dry, yet I have learnt! So I think this experience is good as it reminds me that I am imperfect and I make mistakes along the way but ultimately I try my best, I try to learn and sometimes this is all you can do and as long as you have tried the outcome doesn’t really matter. So keep smiling and remember on the good days when your beans grow perfectly or the bad days when no peas are to be see, look up because “You are unique, an irreplaceable work of God: so be who you are and be that well”
Social Action – The power of friendships and relationships – Every Paul has to find his Timothy!
This week has been a week where I have challenged myself to have more faith and keep putting more of my trust in the plan that God has foe me. I’ve been so encouraged by the people around me to just keep going and trust in God. Just finish the race!
I was on a walk yesterday evening, and on a park bench I saw the words “Keep things going forward, take things as they come and trust in God.” This was such a wonderful thing to read last night, and at the same time I was also listening to the Bible in One Year and the the message of it was “pass the baton.” It meant that as a Christian it is so important to pass on the message of the good news to others!! God is always good, and he is good always… isn’t that the best news to spread!!!
Sometimes things just fall into place and you know it is God working for you. More often than not it is easy to become bogged down in things which don’t fill your soul. I get easily swept up in things and I forget that ultimately all we are dong all this for God, and it has been the friends around me this week who have motivated me to keep going and to keep trusting that what God has put in my path is the right thing for me at this time.
The Lord is good, and he has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, so my encouragement for you this week is to just finish the race, surround yourself with people who will encourage you and grow your spirit, and keep trusting in him!
Fr Marco on the Parable of the seed growing by itself
He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, at once he starts to reap because the harvest has come.’ Mark 4: 26-29 New Jerusalem Bible
Apart from the miracle of the Calming of the Storm which precedes chapter 5, most of the fourth chapter of Mark consists of parables, notably those with agricultural references.
In the present context, all the parables of Jesus in this chapter can be understood as pertaining to the teaching of Jesus viz. that His teaching is a light that must shine out for all to see and for which the recipients are in some way responsible.
The New Jerusalem translation gives this parable the title of the ‘Parable of the seed growing by itself’. This title highlights the fact that growth often takes place on one’s own, a salutary thought for those who are self-isolating or shielding loved ones at this time.
Sleep is essential for the growth of children when most development takes place hidden at night. Similarly spiritual growth may take place in such a way that one is not aware of it at the time. Only by reflection on experience may one say that she or he has gained a spiritual profundity that hitherto had not been visible.
The man in this parable scatters seed. Thus it falls at random, his initial work is done. However, the effects of his efforts result in a growth which the sower would be at pains to explain fully. So it is with our works of charity; we may never know the full extent of what we do, but the Lord will ensure that the harvest of our works completed by His grace will endure.
Guest writer – Mr Browne:
Broken Halos – Chris Stapleton
“Seen my share of broken halos, folded wings that used to fly they’ve all gone wherever they go……….. Angels come down from the heavens just to help us on our way come to teach us, then they leave us to find some other soul to save.”
One of my favourite songs is by a country artist called Chris Stapleton who sings of Broken Halos and folded wings. This is a metaphor for when people are maybe in tough times or simply at their lowest.
We all have experienced lows or seen loved ones in a low of their own, despite perceived strength, resilience or a sense untouchability. By the very nature of life we will experience, failings, anger, frustration, desperation, bereavement and loss and this is something that we cannot be prepared.
When we go through these tough times we are at our lowest we are not a true representation of who we are meant to be. That person might not be able to show any of their qualities or personality. They may not even be able to partake in their family or activities with friends. This place is the loneliest place in the world, the darkest place in the world and certainly somewhere we need help in.
I think these song lyrics describe this lowness using biblical imagery. We are all angels and all are blessed to even be alive, and having a broken halo or folded wings that are not flying is a sorry image that I can and have been through and have seen my loved ones in. It is a place which I feel very passionately that I never want to see anyone in both in my personal world or the young people I work with.
Thankfully we as a Catholic community have found ourselves surrounded by people of a like mind. People who will drag us out of our depths however they can be it through simple acts of prayer or by physical support and actions.
Parable – Footprint in the sand
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”
As a young Catholic I struggled to understand and relate to a lot of the teachings from both Church and school. I struggled to understand my faith and put it into words. Much with all my learning through life I needed a physical or visual understanding of what it is to have faith. This Parable along with the modern art that is used provided it. I began to link the parables meanings with experience of my own, when I had been desperate for support and had received it from every single person I surrounded myself with. This was the realisation of amazing community both none faith and faith based.
As a young man I began to secure and understand my faith, I learnt the joys of helping other people to “fix their halos and unfolded their wings”. As an adult my faith, music choices, books I read, hobbies I partake in and inevitably the people I surround myself with all come back to the same thing……………..
When I am broken and cannot fly will this person, hobby, action or experience help me to fly and be who I am meant to be?
When my loved ones, students, friends or stranger are broken or cannot fly – What can I do to help them and how am I going to be their angel today?
This week we have been working together as a team getting Bosco’s Base ready for next year…
The importance of having a safe space where you feel calm and listened to is so important and we hope this is how you will feel here!
Equally the tomatoes are doing well but the green beans are slowly being munched by slugs. I feel too guilty to get rid of them but at the same time it would be nice to have some green beans for myself J It got me to thinking though initially the growing the vegetables was something to do for the community and even though it hasn’t gone to plan it has allowed me time to reflect and a reason to go outside, come rain or shine to tend to something that needs tending too J Don’t neglect to look after yourself over the summer holidays, remember to take the time to care for yourself because this will only make you stronger. Next week if our final Time to do Time to be blog so until then have a great weekend and remember… “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” 3 John 1:2
Social Action Miss Barnsley – Meet people where they are at and glorify Jesus in that!
1 Peter 2: 9 – declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
This week has been another totally God filled and epic week. Monday was spent working with another school on collaboration thinking about how we can further build the Kingdom of God here at Salesian. And Tuesday and Wednesday were spent reading the gospels for the next liturgical year and planning. I have never really analysed scripture in this way before, to truly grapple with the deeper meaning and see how we can transfer some quite deep theology into a language that all will understand. The Word in the Bible has one again blown me away with its power, and I heard someone say, that we don’t read the Bible, the Bible reads us! And what an honour it has been to spend time with
Also this week has taught me once again the power of humility but also learning how to take complements with grace. It is natural to be pleased when someone says “well done” for a good piece of work we have done; but this week has taught me that this is only possible through teamwork and ultimately all that is good is God; so always give Him the glory when someone praises you!
Only 2 weeks left guys, we can do it.. and remember, we are a chosen people, uniquely and wonderfully made, and we have been called to walk in his glorious light…. So let’s make sure we do!!!
Meditations with Father Marco
John 21: 9-14
‘As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken.
‘Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, “Who are you?” They knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus revealed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.’
In the Synoptic Gospels, the act of fishing is synonymous with the mission of the Apostles and the coming of God’s Kingdom. The number of fish is significant; one-hundred and fifty-three was considered to be the number of nations in the world. Hence the mission of the Church in inaugurating the signs of the Kingdom of God is universal.
This charming image of Jesus cooking breakfast for His friends may appeal to the foodies amongst us, particularly during the summer barbecue season! Preparing food for friends and family is a concrete act of love. Indeed the word “companionship” comes from two Latin words “cum” and “pane” meaning “with bread”, so a companion is someone with whom you eat.
In this current time when lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease slowly (for the time being), can we perhaps think of food and sharing as an action of the Ecclesia Domestica or “Domestic Church” at home?