Joy Wanless is a volunteer with CAFOD Salford. She shares about what inspired her to become a prayer-writing volunteer. Find out how you can join her.
Me, write a reflection, write prayers? Not I! I was used to reciting traditional prayers and following liturgies prepared by others. Belonging to the Spirituality Team in Salford diocese changed all that. As I became more interested in following CAFOD stories, learning about the treacherous difficulties of life in many parts of the world and the generosity of CAFOD volunteers, I wanted to fuel their passion by enmeshing the prayer with the stories.
A very moving moment from a story which touched me greatly was at a Water Pilgrimage we planned around the diocese, travelling between the churches. As part of the prayer we gave out pieces of rope and invited people to tie them tightly round their waists. This was inspired by the story of Ayapan who ties string round her waist and drinks hot water to cope with hunger.
Every Friday, we offer you a reflection on the Sunday gospel. This week’s reflection was written by Roisin Beirne, who works in CAFOD’s Legacy team. It is based on the gospel for Sunday 5 November- Matthew 23:1-12.
“Anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Roisin, from our legacy team, would like to share a reflection on this Sunday's gospel reading from Matthew. Please join us in prayer.
Based on the Gospel for Sunday 22 October – Matthew 22:15-21 “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God”
The Religious authorities are determined to undermine Jesus’ authority and once again Jesus manages to undermine their authority instead.
Clearly, the authorities do not stand apart from the Roman occupation, since they readily seem to be able to produce a coin with Caesar’s head on it. It is significant that Jesus is unable to produce a coin himself since he is homeless, dependent on the goodness, generosity and hospitality of others.
Jesus affirms the need to fulfil our civic duties, but even more so – as creatures who are bearers of God’s image – we are called to go beyond the law showing love, mercy and justice to others and to all of creation. This love is made manifest not in a passive desire to avoid doing wrong, but in an active determination to work for the flourishing of all.
Dear Lord, help us to fulfil our civic duties towards one another and towards the common good. Help us to remember that every person is made in your image, and every part of creation reflects your glory. Inspire us to use our civil rights to advocate for the flourishing of all peoples and all creation. Amen.
Linda Jones is Head of the CAFOD Theology Programme. On the second anniversary of Pope Francis encyclical, Laudato Si’, she reflects on how we can free our hearts and minds to transform our world.
We can each imagine what the world could be like, though we might each have a very different picture in our minds. As Christians, we have a passionate love of God and our neighbour, especially neighbours who are treated as if they don’t matter. We can hear the ‘cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’, and we long to respond.
Yet the challenges are so many, and seemingly so huge, that some of us simply find it all too much. Where do we start? Is it even worth bothering to try? Pope Francis identifies some of the biggest issues facing us in his inspiring encyclical, Laudato Si’: climate change, pollution, migration, work, poverty and inequality… rapidification, an over-reliance on technological change for solutions, and more.
Rachel Mannix is a CAFOD volunteer who has written and performed her spoken word poetry for CAFOD. Inspired by her faith, Rachel explains how she learned a new form of prayer.
Growing up there have been so many times that I’ve come home after an incredible experience of God and thought, “What next?”
During special events, like youth conferences, the atmosphere is electric and you feel so connected and strengthened in your faith but then when it is over you get a feeling of withdrawal from that community and spirituality – you can feel lost, deflated and on your own.
It can be really difficult to keep the momentum going when you are faced with your normality but I’m learning more and more that God doesn’t ask us to do that on our own. He wants to be a part of our day-to-day lives and I don’t want to just have a relationship with Him when I’m at an event, but all the time.
Cameron is a CAFOD young leader and volunteered at Flame 2017, an event for 10,000 young Catholics on 11 March. Alongside around 50 other young volunteers, he ran activities with the Flame crowd to raise awareness of CAFOD and global justice issues.
I had the opportunity to volunteer with CAFOD at Flame. This was an enjoyable experience and I had a really nice day. For anyone who doesn’t know, Flame is a Catholic event held at the SSE Arena, Wembley. At Flame there are many different speakers and performers such as Matt Redman.
The day started with joining the mini bus in order to take us to Wembley. As we arrived we got into the groups got to know what activities we’d be running as we were volunteering and not just here to watch the performances!
Dr Susy Brouard is CAFOD’s Theological advisor and has a passion for Catholic social teaching. Here she explains how our values were chosen and how CAFOD staff try to live them out in their everyday work.
Fourteen years ago today I started working at CAFOD. My role was to help the Catholic community make connections between their faith and issues of justice. However, after seven years my role changed and I was asked to work specifically with CAFOD staff, helping them to understand how our values are rooted in Catholic social teaching (CST) and the implications of this for their work.
What are CAFOD’s values and how were they chosen?
Before 1996, CAFOD did not name any specific principles from CST, but stated more generally that we shared “in the process of integral human development and the building up of the Kingdom of God on earth”.
However, in 1996 we explicitly stated our Vision, Mission and Values. The VMV, as they became known, were created with input from staff, from CAFOD supporters and from our overseas partners. At this stage, our values were named as: compassion, solidarity, partnership, integrity of creation, stewardship and hope.
Sue Cooper, a CAFOD supporter from Corpus Christi parish in Wokingham, reflects on what Advent means to her as a time of hope and light amongst the winter gloom and darkness.
How I dislike this time of year. The dark nights and the cold, wet weather force me inside, and living in an area of the South where it rarely snows, there’s not even that brightness to lighten my mood. The news, too, speaks of horror in Syria and tumult in Iraq as well as an uncertain future for us here. It is miserable, but amidst the gloom there is hope.
The Sunday Mass readings throughout Advent warn us to ready ourselves and our anticipation of future events is filled with light and expectation. We have not been abandoned in the darkness, there is one who is coming to us who brings peace and cares for those on the margins. And in preparation to welcome the one who comes, we must respond to the call of John the Baptist and “repent” and change our ways. As the weeks unfold the anticipation and the excitement grow: the Word is made flesh, Emmanuel, God with us, is coming!
As we prepare for Christmas, Advent is a time to take stock of what has happened in the past year. As a family, we post up pictures on our website with short captions to share with our extended family and friends what we’ve been up to. It’s a time to consider those who have died during the year, our achievements and perhaps ponder the “might have beens”. Continue reading “Advent: Hope amidst the gloom”
CAFOD volunteer Trevor Stockton, from St Anthony of Padua parish in Wolverhampton, reflects on the significance of Advent in his life, past and present.
Advent was a word I didn’t know about until I started going to church in my teens. The period before Christmas and Christmas itself really took on a new meaning for me thereafter.
Before then, as a child in a working class family in the 1940s, Christmas was simply all about having a few treats that we didn’t get all year round. Having an ordinary stocking filled with nuts, dates, a tangerine and other similar luxuries was amazing. A few, and I mean a few, simple presents followed by a family Christmas meal made the day. There was no television and the day continued with playing games. So, the weeks before Christmas were spent in anticipation of this special time.
Now, Advent means trying to put the religious significance into perspective against a backdrop of a society which seems to see Christmas as a purely commercial, money-making, money-spending time, whatever the cost to self, others and the environment.
After I have had the annual tussle with myself about the negatives of this commercial approach, Advent’s true significance to me is as a time of preparation for the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus – who forms the basis of our Christian faith.