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Spiritual REFLECTION guide

Hope is Born... Again October 2009


Dear Vincentians and Friends, We are pleased to offer you a set of Spiritual Reflection Guides for the months of October, November and December, 2009. The Guides are not intended to be prescriptive in any way: as long as they lead to reflection, the aim is served. We suggest, however, that the present format is not a preparation for the Sunday liturgy but rather another perspective that hopefully will have an influence on the week that we are sent out to live at the conclusion of Mass. Once again an invitation: we are always looking for assistance in producing the guides for members and volunteers. If you would like to help and could spare a day or so, please contact Wendy Scott or Bill Johnston on 02 9560 8666 Particular thanks are due to the contributors to this series of the Guides, Anne Bailey, Jessica Pollard, Bec Bromhead and Dr Andy Marks. Anne is also a member of the editorial team. A useful weblink for the full Sunday readings is www.litcom.net.au. All spiritual reflection guides for 2009 can be accessed on the national website, www.vinnies.org. au and follow the publications link. In your work as Vincentians, may you continue to nurture life, in joy and in hope.

Bill Johnston Spiritual Advisor

Our Mission The St Vincent de Paul Society is a lay Catholic organisation that aspires to live the Gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice and joy, and by working to shape a more just and compassionate society. Our Vision The St Vincent de Paul Society aspires to be recognised as a caring Catholic charity offering “a hand up” to people in need. We do this by respecting their dignity, sharing our hope, and encouraging them to take control of their own destiny. Privacy Statement Because the St Vincent de Paul Society respects the privacy of the people it serves, the names of any clients featured in this guide have been changed and pictorial models used. The Spiritual Reflection Guides of the St Vincent de Paul Society are produced by Spiritual Advisor, Bill Johnston. Acknowledgements: Text: Bill Johnston, Anne Bailey, Dr Andy Marks, Jessica Pollard, Bec Bromhead Design: Rachel Anne Irvine ABN: 46 472 591 335 Copyright acknowledgements • All material taken from Out of the Ordinary © 2000 by Joyce Rupp. Used by permission of Ave Maria Press. All rights reserved. • Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope by Joan Chittister, OSB. © 2003 Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Company. • Wisdom Distilled from the Daily – Living the Rule of St Benedict Today by Joan Chittister, OSB. © 1990 HarperCollins Publishers. • The Pattern of Our Days – Liturgies and Resources for Worship. © 1996 The Iona Community. • Creating a Life with God – the Call of Ancient Prayer Practices. © 2003 Daniel Wolpert. Upper Room Books.

Spiritual Reflection Guide October - December 2009


Youth and Justice 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Gen 2:18-24 Heb 2:9-11 Mk 10:2-16

Preserve this spirit The community of Sant’Egidio was formed in 1968 by a teenager named Andrea Riccardi. He gathered a group of high school students together to focus on putting the Gospel into action. The Acts of the Apostles and St Francis of Assisi inspired the group. The group began to visit and befriend the people who lived in the slums on the outskirts of Rome and they set up an afternoon school for the children who lived in the slums. Prayer is at the core of the Community of Sant’Egidio; they pray together daily and see this as their first “work”. There are many commonalities between Vinnies and the Community of Sant’Egidio. Both have a focus on friendship with the poor and both started very small, but spread widely and are now present in over 100 countries with a strong international network. The most significant commonality between Vinnies and Sant’Egidio is that they were started by a group of young, passionate, enthusiastic students. This is part of the reason why both groups have had such a vital impact internationally. The energy of youth and the idealism that drives them to pursuing social justice are central to both organisations. Sharing: How can I help something small to grow? Where are the people who require justice in my life?

THIS WEEK...

"Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them. Gospel of St Mark

Prayer On this Social Justice Sunday may we reflect on today’s statement “And You Will Be My Witnesses: Young people and justice.” May we follow the simple beginnings of the Sant’Egidio community and encourage our own Society to be witnesses to Jesus through a love for and friendship with the poor.

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A long, loving look 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Wis 7:7-11 Heb 4:12-13 Mk 10:17-30

The Peace of God The remarkable element in today’s Gospel account of the rich young man is precisely the reaction of Jesus to his decision about the invitation offered him. While acknowledging the dilemma between possessions and the call of the kingdom, Jesus does not judge the young man outright but simply affirms: “everything is possible for God.” Does our own attitude to the young mirror that of Jesus? Why might it be that few young adults seem keen to take up the challenge of the Society’s mission to the poor? “…One of the things that most distinguishes young people of today is that most young people have enormous choice. They have almost literally mind-blowing choice about nearly every aspect of their lives. They can travel almost anywhere, they can live together before they are married, and they can try any number of things, destructive and productive alike. They are susceptible to great pressure from their peers, from advertising in all its subtlety and its crassness, and from bullies in every institution they are part of; they are at least aware of a whole range of religions and quite often have friends who are from other religions or none. What’s more their choices are growing. I am sometimes a little jealous of their wide choices, but in my wiser moments I am not sure how I would handle such a wide choice. It is much easier to choose when you have very few options.” (Graham English, A Migrant in my own land, November 2008)

THIS WEEK...

I believe that we must reach our brother, never toning down our fundamental oppositions, but meeting him when he asks to be met, with a reason for the faith that is in us, as well as with a loving sympathy for them as brothers. - Dorothy Day

Prayer

God of all, make your love for us the foundation of our lives. May our love for you express itself, In deep respect for individual differences, And in our eagerness to do good for others. AMEN.

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TRUE GREATNESS 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time Is 53:10-11 Heb 4:14-16 Mk 10:35-45

Servant of all The image of two of Jesus’ apostles lobbying for the best seats in the kingdom, one on his right and the other on the left, speaks easily to our world where people often seek their own advantage without much regard for the needs of others. And as to be expected, the other ten apostles were none too pleased with James and John.

THIS WEEK... ...the giving of assistance is not what we are doing - the sharing of ourselves is what we're about, and sharing of ourselves is an enormous risk - a risk to the people we visit, because if you build up a relationship and you let them down, you do more harm than you did in the beginning; a risk to you and I, because it intrudes more on us, our personalities, our time and our efforts." (from "Home Visitation Reflections", Broken Bay Diocesan Council)

Prayer Lord, I desire a heart that is true,

The response of Jesus is to turn the way of the world upside down, asserting that “anyone who wants to become great among you must be the servant of all…for the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve…”

Free from my selfish motives and pride.

Frederic Ozanam, much closer to our own time, faced with the change and social upheaval of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, put the message of this Gospel story in the form of a modern day question when he asked:

Draw daily strength as in You I abide. - Helen Klassen

Will society be a great system of exploitation for the benefit of the strongest, or a consecration of each one for the welfare of all and especially the protection of the weak?

A heart that will humbly and freely serve You,

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What then for you are the essentials of Christian service?

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How do Vincentians in their work for the poor offer a “hand up”, not just a “handout”?

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Acceptance: the first step 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Jer 31:7-9 Heb 5:1-6 Mk 10:46-52

Non-judgemental acceptance Retired Parramatta priest, Fr Tim Hogan is a firm advocate of the transformative power of acceptance. Born with pronounced cerebral palsy, Tim’s dream to become a priest was at first challenged by seemingly insurmountable hurdles. Two orders of priests rejected him before his journey led him to the then Parramatta Bishop Bede Heather, who said, “Your disability is irrelevant.” With non-judgemental acceptance Tim went on to become ordained as a priest. His commitment to sharing his faith with all manner of people throughout numerous western Sydney parishes is well-known. “I usually find more intelligent people accept me”, says Tim, “but I can’t expect people to be attracted to me.” Acceptance was also a pivotal force for former refugee Hieu Van Lee. Now the Lieutenant Governor of South Australia, Hieu overcame seemingly incredible obstacles to build a life for his family in Australia. Fleeing war-torn Vietnam in a tiny boat with fifty other refugees, Heui recalls, “There was not a day without gunshots, rockets, attacks and seeing other people killed.” Discussing the key to overcoming adversity, Hieu says it was self-belief and the acceptance shown to him by the community that made it possible.

THIS WEEK... As Vincentians we see the face of Christ in the poor, and we accept his love regardless of the challenges acceptance brings. By accepting others without judgement, we recognise our brokenness before the Lord and in doing so we take another step on our journey together towards holiness.

Prayer Father, we believe in your unconditional love for each of us. As you accept us, may we be unconditional in our acceptance of all whom we meet in our lives. AMEN.

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All God’s children All Saints

Apoc 7:2-4, 9-14 1 Jn 3:1-3 Mt 5:1-12

Popes, parents, priests & paupers It seems to me that having ‘Saint’ put in front of one’s name is quite a daunting prospect. The idea of living a heroic life or of completely following the Beatitudes as set out by Matthew in the Gospel of this feast is way beyond the scope of ordinary lives. But Jesus does not ask everything of every follower. He simply says: “the poor are blessed, those who mourn are blessed, the merciful are blessed, peacemakers are blessed”. So when we come to November 1, we do not just have a commemoration of the acknowledged heroes of Christianity; we are invited to be thankful for all the human goodness we have known, loved and recognized as the work of the Spirit of God in the people made in his image – popes, parents, priests or paupers. As well as the models endorsed by the Church, that band of people must include many we know, or have known.

THIS WEEK...

In times of need we turn for strength To those who've come before our days That their unseen presence might. Come to us as guiding rays. Remind us in your quiet ways. That we can reach the worthwhile goal. World peace will reign forever on. With kindness shown to one and all! - Susan Helene Kramer

Prayer Help us to see and appreciate all the good in the lives and actions of others, May their example inspire us to goodness and wholeness in our own lives. This is our prayer in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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Have you ever met a saint? Do you know a living saint? Spiritual Reflection Guide October - December 2009


Sharing our gifts 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Welcome all people as Christ

Our deepest desire is to share our riches and this desire is rooted in the dynamics of the cosmos. Whenever you are filled with a desire to fling your gifts into the world, you have become [the] cosmic dynamic of celebration, feeling its urgency to pour forth just as the stars felt the same urgency to pour themselves out. -Thomas Berry

1 Kg 17:10-16 Heb 9:24-28 Mk 12:38-44

This week’s readings about the prophecy of Elijah from the Old Testament and the generosity of the widow in the Gospel both speak about sharing what we have, even if it is very little. The readings also speak to us of showing hospitality. Several religious orders take a vow of hospitality, one of these being Benedictines. “Hospitality means that we take people into the space that is our lives and our minds and our hearts and our work and our efforts. And every guest is received with the same warmth and the same care, the same dignity, and the same attention.” – Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily Do Vincentians employ a similar attitude to that of the Benedictines of “welcoming all people as Christ”? And what do we offer besides food and shelter? Do we give the gift of our time by sitting and listening to someone who has come to us for help? Do we take care to keep our facilities clean for those who enter our doors? Do we plant flowers or weed the flower beds or place cut flowers on the tables where we serve meals? Sharing: What gifts do I have to offer? (Name some gifts that are not monetary in nature.) Share a story about a time when you have welcomed someone as you would Christ.

Prayer Generous God, you smile upon the wide diversity and beauty in the humanity which you have created, but you weep at the great divide between the rich and the poor. Stretch our vision so that we do not forget those who hunger and search for shelter each day. Enable us to use earth’s resources responsibly and grant us the generosity to share all our gifts with others. Amen. - Joyce Rupp, Out of the Ordinary

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O God, you are my hope 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Dan 12:1-3 Heb 10:11-14, 18 Mk 13:24-32

Despair vs. Hope

THIS WEEK... When tragedy strikes, when trouble comes, when life disappoints us, we stand at the crossroads between hope and despair. Despair cements us in the present. Hope sends us dancing into tomorrow. Despair is the affliction of those who have lost their memory. Hope says, remember where you have been before and know that God is waiting for you, to go on again to something new. -Joan Chittister, Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope

Keep me safe, O God, you are my hope. - Psalm 15 This week is the second to last in the liturgical calendar. As the end of the year approaches, the Scripture readings turn our attention to the end of times. We all face endings at some point in our lives: the end of school, a job, a relationship - perhaps through the death of a parent, partner or loved one. What is it that carries us through such times? What enables us to endure times of struggle? Is it the support and presence of others around us? Is it the trust, hope, joy and happiness that the Psalmist expresses? At one point, we would all have sung the words in the hymn: “Though the mountains may fall and the hills turn to dust, yet the love of the Lord will stand�.

Prayer May God make us steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and untiring in love all the days of our lives. AMEN.

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When have you encountered someone who wanted to give in to despair?

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What words of hope did you offer to them? Spiritual Reflection Guide October - December 2009


Only one rule: Jesus Christ Christ the King Dan 7:13-14 Apoc 1:5-8 Jn 18:33-37

The Rule: Jesus Christ

Christ yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega… Easter Vigil

The twentieth century was almost the century of the disappearance of monarchs, so it may seem strange that the institution of this feast of the Kingship of Christ took place in 1925 during the pontificate of Pius XI and that its present form came from Pope Paul VI in 1969, under the title Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of all. There are three moments in the liturgical calendar where quite different reflection is made on the person of Jesus; the first is to ask us to grasp the reality of his humanity in the narrative of his birth; the second is the record of his passion, death and resurrection over the Easter triduum and the manifestation of his divinity in the post resurrection stories. And it is with concentration on Jesus that the liturgical year comes to an end this Sunday.

THIS WEEK... Has not Jesus Christ commanded us to imitate his meekness above all things? It is therefore with this virtue we must approach him and conduct others to him. -St Vincent de Paul

Prayer Dear Lord Jesus, help us to see you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly. AMEN.

The eastern Christian church in its iconography emphasizes Jesus Christ ‘philanthropos’ – Jesus Christ, Lover of humanity much more than the western church. One of the most prized treasures of the monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai desert is a sixth century icon, later copied in Greece in the 13th century with that very inscription.

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Stay awake, pray at all times First Sunday of Advent - beginning of Year C cycle Jer 33:14-16 1 Thess 3:12-4:2 Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

Keeping watch in the night As you read the poem below, Keeping Watch in the Night, allow other instances where this situation might occur to come to your mind also. Shepherds keeping watch in the night, close to the grassy slopes, at home in the darkness, a listening presence in the midnight emptiness shepherds keeping watch in the night, terrified by a voice not heard before, not supposed to be there shepherds keeping watch in the night, alarmed by powerful light, up-ending their security but they did not run away they stayed in the dark and listened, stretched their ears to the unknown voice and the voice said: “do not be afraid. I have wonderful news: the Birthing you’ve longed for in the depths of your soul, has come, oh yes, has come!” Out of the Ordinary, Joyce Rupp

THIS WEEK... O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth. - 1st O antiphon

Prayer Loving God, our hearts desire the warmth of your presence and our minds search for the light of your Word. Give us strength to grow in love, that the dawn of Christ’s coming may find us rejoicing in his presence and welcoming the light of his truth. AMEN.

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Prepare a way Second Sunday of Advent Baruch 5:1-9 Phil 1:4-6, 8-11 Lk 3:1-6

The Examen

THIS WEEK... O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save us whom you made from clay. - 6th O antiphon

One way that we can prepare a way for the coming of the Lord during this Advent/Christmas season is to practice one of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola – the Examen. Reflection: Each person is invited to choose a period of time to examine in prayer. This can be a day, a week, a month, a year, or a specific event such as a visit to someone in hospital or at home. Allow time and silence for you to review that period in your mind. Some questions you might ask yourself about it include: What am I most or least grateful for during that time? When did I feel a sense of love, peace, joy, life (the gifts of the Spirit or what St Ignatius calls consolation)? When did I feel exhausted, dead, drained, angry, mean (what St Ignatius calls desolation)?

Prayer God of hope, come! Enter into every human heart that cries out for a glimpse of your love, for a sign of your welcoming presence, for a taste of your happiness. Enable us to not lose sight of the power of your presence or the truth of your consolation. Amen.

Ask yourself: When did I feel that God was present or absent during this time?

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After sufficient time has been given for reflection, group members are invited to share their experiences. The group serves as a place for support and affirmation. If you repeat this prayer at regular intervals, you may come to see how God is working in your life.

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Adapted from “Creating a Life with God” by Daniel Wolpert Spiritual Reflection Guide October - December 2009


Take up your Cross Third Sunday of Advent Zeph 3:14-18 Phil 4:4-7 Lk 3:10-18

Gift of presence “The Gospel stories indicate that Jesus gave few material things to people. What he gave most was his personal presence, gifts like: belief in self, inner healing, peace of mind, compassion, forgiveness, dignity, and justice. Sharing the gift of personal presence means that we see ourselves as a gift holding the goodness of Jesus who is Emmanuel, God-with-us. Like Jesus, we can give gifts from the heart: moments lovingly spent with another through prayer, our care and concern, our hope, our joy, our understanding and forgiveness, our kindness, our patience. When I think of my hurried pace of life, I look at how Advent gets lost in “the Christmas rush”. The messages are all around me: “Buy this and you will be happy; buy that and you will prove your love.” When we are busy, rushed, and pressed it is easy to miss awareness of those around us and those in our larger world. Advent is a good season to be more deliberate in sharing the present of our presence every day. It may be through a phone call, a letter, a visit, or through the bonding of prayer.” - Joyce Rupp, “Out of the Ordinary”

Sharing: How might you show the love and hope of Emmanuel, God-with-us, to those around you? What is the difference between “being with” someone and “doing for” them?

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O key of David and sceptre of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. - 4th O antiphon

Prayer God, so much of faith is waiting like a pregnant woman waiting in hope like a people under siege, holding out till relief comes like the soul lost in the darkness, unable to see even a glimmer of light yet stumbling through the night because somewhere, out ahead, day will surely break. God, be with us in our waiting. - The Pattern of Our Days, The Iona Community

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May Peace Prevail Fourth Sunday of Advent Micah 5:1-4 Heb 10:5-10 Lk 1:39-44

Expectation What child is this, who, laid to rest ; On Mary’s lap, is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, While shepherds watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the King, Whom shepherds guard and angels sing: Haste, haste to bring him laud, The Babe, the Son of Mary! The themes of waiting and expectation are dominant in the Advent liturgy. And the Gospel for the fourth Sunday is Saint Luke’s account of the meeting of two such expectant mothers, Mary and Elizabeth. The Gospel account of the visitation is also the source of two of Christianity’s most treasured prayers, the Hail Mary and Mary’s song of joy in the Magnificat. Every mother-to-be asks the same question of her unborn child and reflects on the life that is about to unfold. For many, the prospects are of security, wellbeing and love. But what of those mothers whose world for their child is of poverty, hardship, sickness, disability and social turmoil? As well as concentrating in faith on the birth of Jesus, we pray especially in our time of waiting for all the children to be born throughout the world in 2010.

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O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the peoples await as their Saviour. O came and save us, Lord, our God. - Last O antiphon

Prayer May the newborn of this Christmas be welcomed joyfully into loving families. May they flourish and grow as God intends. May they know happiness in their young lives. May they learn to live in peace with one another. AMEN. We wait in joyful hope for the coming of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

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Sharing: Is there the special event of a birth in your family this Christmas? Will you meet a Christmas child in your work as a Vincentian?

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Human family Holy Family

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My father’s house

When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. - Gospel of Luke

Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 or 1 Sam 1:20-22, 24-28 Col 3:12-21 or 1 Jn 3:1-2, 21-24 Lk 2:41-52 It is a familiar scene – the child threatens to run away or runs away from the family home – taking their teddy bear, a pair of PJs and a blanket. More often than not the child only gets to the end of the driveway, or if they are particularly adventurous the bottom of their street. In my family episodes such as these lasted for half an hour at most. There was an element of hide and seek – it was a bit of a game. It was a different story when Jesus went missing; Mary and Joseph were frantic. He was truly missing , and not for an hour, but for three long scary days until they found him. Jesus had an inkling of his greater mission even at such a tender age. He was surprised that his parents were so worried. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my father’s house?” Jesus saw the importance of connecting with those who were not in his immediate family. The importance of building relationships, discussing faith and of valuing people from different families to his own. The group of people or community that Jesus called his family would have been quite extensive and he still reached beyond them to impact positively in the lives of strangers. Think about the group that you call your family. How many people are in it? Who are the people in this group who are not formally your family but “feel” like family? Who do we call our family? Where is our Father’s house? How do we impact positively on people both within our family and in the wider human family?

Prayer Loving father, you call us your daughters and sons. Help us to see each other as brothers and sisters and to take the time to reach out and impact on each other positively. AMEN.

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Spiritual Reflection guide

Spritual Reflection Guides are a publication of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Spiritual Advisor, Bill Johnston and are designed by Rachel Anne Irvine. For more information about these Guides, contact Bill Johnston on (02) 9560 8666 or email bill.johnston@vinnies.org.au.

http://vinnies.org.au/files/NSW/Spirituality/SpiritualReflectionGuides/SpiritualReflectionGuides_OCT  

http://vinnies.org.au/files/NSW/Spirituality/SpiritualReflectionGuides/SpiritualReflectionGuides_OCT09_web.pdf

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