Resources for reflection and action for peacemakers: prayers…reflections…poems…reports of lent actions you or your group are taking. (Send to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ash Wednesday Message from PCI’s Co-President, Bishop Emeritus Marc Stenger
As we enter Lent, we are invited to choose a practice that will help us to give a place to God in our lives, to let his Word resonate within us.
We are invited to the desert, a place of aridity, thirst, hunger, even temptation, but also a place of what is essential, of encounter.
Lent is a time to choose a path that nourishes us. This year, Lent begins with the clash of arms. We are deeply affected by the madness, the destruction, the exodus, and the deaths, but we are invited to discover in our lives that after the experience of death comes the resurrection.
So what are the choices we want to make?
The choice of a nonviolent approach?
May our word be impeccable!
May we speak without criticism, without pride, and without anger, because speaking evil, slandering, or cursing always has repercussions on everyone we speak to.
May we rediscover the wonder of creation: we are part of the canvas of life and we receive our life from it.
May we listen to Jesus, not take refuge in a religiosity made of extraordinary events, but with the courage to face reality each day with its challenges, and its contradictions
Ash Wednesday Witness
May we speak against the false prophets who are an obstacle to love.
May this Ash Wednesday be a day to reflect on and return to the right path.
Ash Wednesday Witness – Online Prayer Service
Pax Christi EW joined with Christian CND for a moving prayer service in which those present remembered situations of conflict in the world, lamenting the UK’s involvement in arms production, and called for repentance.
It was beautiful and set us up for Lent”Ellen Teague, journalist
Words from PCI’s C o-President, Sr Teresia Wamuyu Wachira …
“Thank you to each one of you gathered here. I am very grateful to be part of this journey when we accompany those who are suffering in our world as a result of different wars. Our gathering here gives us the opportunity to reflect on these wars which not only affect us and generations to come but also our environment. We are especially conscious of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Our coming together gives us the opportunity too to respond to these realities. In our reflections we ask:
Where am I/We in all these? Where have I/We failed? – In the act of contrition we say, “in what I have done and in what I have failed to do”. What is my sin of omission in these realities?
The people for whom we gather to pray today and with, are hurting, too deep are their wounds that they can no longer feel, they suffer in silence; the women cannot enjoy life with their children; the men cannot meet to share, the children can no longer freely play games.
In this reality, our call is reflected in Micah 6:8, to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God. How do we do this? […]
Thank you for all you are doing; you are the hope of those that are suffering, you are the voice of the voiceless; you are putting your lives on line for the sake of all these people who are suffering. They are suffering from governments that have hardened their hearts that they can no longer feel, blocked and deafened their ears that they can no longer hear the people’s cries.
Thank you and blessings to you all during this time of Lent as we look forward, with hope, to the coming Easter…
Ash Wednesday in Liverpool
The ever-faithful Liverpool Pax Christi group with friends from Merseyside CND gathered at St Luke’s bombed church on Ash Wednesday and walked to the Town Hall pausing for prayer and reflection.
We’re planning to hold online prayer and reflection sessions weekly during Lent. Each week will focus on a situation of conflict using mediations from the Icon of Peace. More information as it is finalised.
Ash Wednesday at Faslane
Marian Pallister, Chair of Pax Christi Scotland writes…
“Today I joined representatives from the Justice and Peace Commission of the Scottish Bishops’ Conference, Glasgow Catholic Worker, Scottish CND, and the Faslane Peace Camp for a moving Ash Wednesday Vigil at the South Gate of the Faslane nuclear submarine base. There was a strong police presence!
We prayed for all who are in conflict. It seemed even more appropriate to be at the base in this week when President Putin has withdrawn from the New START treaty and intends to resume testing of nuclear weapons. We also prayed for all those who suffer from the rising cost of living while the UK goes ahead with a £205 billion renewal plan for Trident.”
Paul McGowan: ‘Mary Magdalen’ reflects, with help from Psalm 50 (51).
Let me just get it straight with you. My name is Mary and I come from Magdala, which is not far from Capernaum where Simon Peter comes from. We’re all Galileans! There are other Marys in the Bible, but they’re not me. Neither am I one of those other women with no name who turn up occasionally. So, I am not the woman who washed Jesus’s feet with her tears and I am not the woman who poured ointment on his head. I am just as respectable, I’ll have you know, as Joanna and Susanna and Mary the mother of James and Salome (no, the other one!) and all the others who accompanied Jesus. I was cured of seven demons, true, but that doesn’t make me a bad person, as some have thought. There was that man who was cured of as many demons as there are in a Roman Legion, and nobody thinks he was a bad man. He was unfortunate, but then he was cured. Same goes for me. Oh, and one more thing. They like to say I was ‘in love’ with Jesus. Well, of course I was in love with Jesus! We were all in love with Jesus!
And we still are.
Right. Now for the Psalm.
This is a Psalm about getting fit in order to spread the Good News. ‘Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will return to you’, it says. But I start with myself, not the others out there who need it more than I do. It’s a Psalm full of the paradoxes of our existence: we do wrong, but we are agents of good; we are always in need of forgiveness, and we permanently receive forgiveness; we are forever turning to God, but God wants us to turn to those around us – ‘you have no delight in sacrifice’, it says. Neither does he want us to be constantly focussed on our many and various shortcomings, which are obvious to anybody, but to work hard on what he wants us to do: ‘Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain in me a willing spirit’, it says. To me, that sounds like ‘get on with the work in a happy frame of mind’.
The fact is, we have been saved, delivered, our sins overlooked, given a job to do and been trusted to do it. Jesus was always saying to people: have you not read what it says in the Bible, and why do you not do what it says, then? He didn’t expect them to fall down in a heap of sorrow for their faults, but to get on with what they very well knew they should be doing!
I was making a big thing at the start about people confusing me with other characters in the story. Now I think I should say something about the real me. I went through a bad patch, obviously, at one time in my life. Seven demons is quite enough, thank you very much. You won’t mind if I don’t go into too much detail, but I will just say the seven demons weren’t seven different demons, as you might be thinking. It was the same demon repeated seven times. In other words, it took me a while to get over it. Some things are just hard to shift, hard to change. We all know that. I still have to watch my step, as I’m sure you understand. As it says in the Psalm, though, ‘wash me thoroughly’ applied very much to me.
The other thing I want to mention is that morning at first light in the garden where the tomb was. Some say I went alone, some that I was with a group of women. To be honest, I can’t remember who was there. I was in a daze. I was in shock. But I do know this: something happened there – I’m still trying to sort it out in my head – but whatever it was has kept the words of that Psalm going round and round inside me: ‘Let me hear joy and gladness. Let the bones you have crushed rejoice… A broken and contrite heart you will not despise’.
So how do I go on after that? I will go back up north, to Galilee, to Magdala. There is a fine synagogue there, not far from the lake. I have relatives there who I have not seen for a while. I feel I should speak to them, explain, if I can, where I have been and what I have been doing. Maybe they’ll let me speak in the synagogue. ‘O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise’, as it says.
I hope they will take me back without too much fuss. He used to call me ‘The Prodigal Daughter’! Perhaps I’ll get lucky, like the boy in the story he used to tell. People have started going off in all sorts of directions, but I think I should go home for now. Galilee was where it started, but I do not think it will end there.
‘Do good to Zion in your good pleasure. Rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.’
Copyright ©️2022 Paul McGowan
Easter Alert 2022
Our friends at Kairos Palestine are pleased to announce the Easter Alert 2022!
Passiontide Reflection by Paul McGowan The Accidental Bystander (Mark 15:21)
I was in two minds this year. Whether to go or not, I mean. It’s a long way, you know, and it’s not an easy journey. In the end, I decided I would, but on my own this time. The family have all been before – Rufus, Alexander and the wife. Boat along the coast, as far as you can, then walk the last fifty miles. There’s no alternative to that. It’s not the best time of year for a sea journey, either. Late February, cold, can be too windy, then you get blown off course, even with the Phoenicians who know the conditions inside out. No wonder they call this a pilgrimage! Still, ‘Ring out your joy…give thanks to the Lord…sing him a song that is new’, as it says!
Landed at Caesarea Maritima this time. Nice place, good harbour. ‘He collects the waves of the ocean, he stores up the depths of the sea’: I remember words like these every time you take a ship; don’t like it myself; I’m a true landlubber! Good road to Jerusalem, though. And interesting. Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Egyptians. You meet all sorts on a journey like this. ‘He frustrates the designs of the nations; he defeats the plans of the peoples’, it says. They all have their plans, it’s true, and everybody is looking over their shoulder all the time because they don’t trust each other. But I needed the Phoenician sailors to get me here safely, and the Roman engineering to smooth the way. You need the language of the Greeks to get by day to day, and the Egyptian merchants to provide the supplies. In Cyrene, we Jews have to live all the time among other races and religions. Jerusalem only gets a taste of this sort of mingling during the great festivals. Yet ‘all his works’ are to be trusted. Does this apply to the nations too?
Just made it this time. Arrived the day before Passover. From a distance, you could tell something was going on. You could hear the shouting. I thought maybe there’s been a riot. Romans always worry about that, so they send extra troops in, like this platoon just passing us now. Getting closer I could see it wasn’t a riot. It was an execution. There was a crowd coming out of the city, led by a group of soldiers and a couple of prisoners on the way to the Hill. Obviously, it was a crucifixion. Not wanting to see any more, I tried to work out how to get into the city by avoiding the crowd that would eventually gather round the crosses.
The closer I got, the harder it was to see how I could do that, except by going further round the walls to another gate. By this time I was almost part of the crowd myself, and I could see that there was a third prisoner. The man seemed to be having great trouble with the crossbeam. He was in a pretty bad way. Then he slipped and fell headlong. Some people seemed to find this amusing. Being taller than most of those around me, I could see over their heads. The prisoner was still on the ground, in spite of the kicks from the soldiers. This is hopeless, grumbled the sergeant. It’s going to take all day at this rate. Oi, you! The big fellow! Over here now! I looked left and right, but there was no escaping. I knew he meant me. Single man, no luggage. Always get picked on. I shuffled my way through the crowd. Just pick it up and carry it for him. No, leave him where he is, he’ll get up by himself! Get up! More kicks.
‘The Lord is our help and our shield’. They can do anything they like, the Romans. Once the system gets going, it’ll chew you up and spit you out. ‘A king is not saved by his army’, it says. Hard to believe this when you see it up close. I was up close now all right.
I stood there with the wooden beam resting against my shoulder, staring down at the heap of bloody clothing. Unsure whether I was supposed to move on or wait for him to get up. He started to move and pushed himself up onto his knees, then stood. He looked round at me. Thanks, he said. That was kind of you. What!? I could tell straight away this was no common scumbag. This was a man of learning, a man of substance. How the hell had he ended up in this mess? ‘The Lord looks on those who revere him’, it says. Do it for this man, then, was all I could think.
We moved on. What’s your name, he asked. Simon, I muttered. Maybe the Romans would give me a taste of their whips if they heard me talking to the prisoner. I have a friend called Simon, he said. He’s a good man, like you. Shut up! I thought. What’s the point of talking like this? Don’t you realise what they’re going to do to you? No ‘rescue from death’ for you, mate.
We were near the top by now. I couldn’t have been more relieved. I dropped the beam and slipped back into the crowd, but this time I got right behind them and sat down with my back to the scene, looking down into the city. Then there was more shouting among the soldiers, getting the bits and pieces into position. As there were three of them to execute, there was quite a lot of this.
I squeezed my eyes tight shut, not that that made any difference. And when the hammering began I just legged it down the hill. ‘The Lord loves justice and right, and fills the earth with his love’ came into my head. ‘Not this time. Not for him’, I said, aloud. I think I must have shouted it. Some people turned round and stared.
Copyright ©️2022 Paul McGowan
The Way of the Cross (5/4/22)
Merseyside Pax Christi Group led an online Stations of the Cross (5/4/22). This Way of the Cross had been compiled as a booklet in 2017 by Valerie Flessati with prayers by Fr Derek Reeve, from reflections and pictures from First World War Conscientious Objectors. Aisling Griffin, Pax Christi Schools and Youth Education Officer, adapted it as a presentation. Available through the office.
The stories of the men – the humiliations they suffered and their inspiring courage – would have been harrowing to listen to at any time. The current background of war only increased the poignancy – as did knowing of the Merseyside group’s own courageous longstanding witness to peace. The Way of the Cross is available from our shop for £2.00. The presentation could be used to mark Conscientious Objectors Day on Sunday 15 May.
Poem by Katharine Holstrom:
The tears of things – 8th station
“Weep not for me, but for your children.”
We are the women of Jerusalem.
We were standing by the Way of the Cross.
But we weep both for you. dear Lord,
And for our children.
We weep for all the sorrows of the world.
We are the women of Ukraine.
We weep for our husbands who embraced us so tenderly,
Bidding us goodbye as they stayed on to fight
While we cowered in dark basements
Or struggled to escape to freedom,
Facing an unknown, frightening future,
Encouraging our little ones, traumatised and fearful.
We weep for our lost, premature babies
As others weep for their own, miscarried children
Or for themselves when they chose to abort
In a tragic miscarriage of judgement and despair.
We are the women of Russia.
Our sons and sweethearts did not go willingly
(Fed by lies and false promises)
To bomb and kill people just like themselves, ourselves.
We grieve for them all – whether living or dead.
We cry out in desperation … but to what avail?
We are the women of Afghanistan
Stripped of our future and condemned to silence.
We are the women of starving countries
Depriving ourselves of a morsel of bread to feed another.
We are the women, old, cold or sick,
Haunted by nightmares of bills and debt.
We are the women raped, beaten, abused
As we shudder and whimper, powerless and vanquished.
You too wept, Jesus of the tender heart,
Were overcome by the sorrow at the death of Lazarus
And the destruction of Jerusalem, foretold.
Yes, Lord, still we weep for you
And we weep for all the children of misfortune.
Mother of Sorrows – in our affliction we turn to you.
Tortured Lord – in your mercy, hear our prayers.
Copyright ©️2022 Katharine Holstrom
Reflection by Paul McGowan
Fifth Sunday of Lent: John 8:1-11
The scenario is crooked. The test they have devised belongs to the same category as the question about paying taxes to Caesar, the widow with several deceased husbands, and so on.
But there is a shocking difference in this story. Here, Jesus is presented with a literal life and death case, not a hypothetical. This is not a bit of legal banter. A person’s life is at stake. This is the one and only time Jesus is made to pronounce on the fate of a real individual. Even more shocking is that he does not dispute the case. But he seems to need time to think, so he pokes about in the dust. And it is what he does not do which surprises.
He does not use the time he has gained to contest their arguments. He does not defend the woman, question her, ask who witnessed what, call for the other party to be brought forward, or suggest they might choose leniency. All he does, in the end, is to make a stipulation about who should go first in carrying out the sentence. He does what they have asked. He gives his opinion.
And then he must have wondered what they would do next. He has taken a big risk with the woman’s safety. Given their agitated state, they might well drag her down a side street and club her to death. When he writes on the ground the second time he may have had his fingers crossed.
As it turns out, the appeal to conscience works. So, finally, the woman gets to speak. She is a witness in her own defence: there is no evidence against me. Well then: off you go, and be good. All very neat and tidy.
But what now becomes of the woman? Like many another individual in the Gospels, how can she resume a normal life after crossing paths with Jesus? The whole town has seen her accused of shameful acts. The withdrawal of the accusation hardly matters. No smoke without fire, after all …. Jesus has not disputed the truth of the accusation. Is she to go through life with this hanging over her? What justice is there in this demonstration that we are all guilty of something and therefore have no grounds for condemning others. It makes a good story, but what about the real world?
The woman is left in dire circumstances, despite the accusation being dropped. Her encounter with Jesus has not cured her of an illness or driven out any demons. The effects of her meeting with Jesus are by no means clear. The accusers can slip back into the crowd; the woman is marked out for ever. It is unthinkable that Jesus would engineer such an outcome, just to extricate himself from a tricky situation. This would be to use the woman just as much as her accusers had.
Fortunately, it’s all a trick. A group of men has identified a woman who they can coerce, manipulate for their purposes. She is ‘that sort of woman’, ‘a woman like this’, after all. They confront Jesus with this bogus charge masquerading as a serious breach of the Law. The dilemma they present Jesus with is therefore entirely false, but it takes him a little while, and maybe some effort, to see through it.
When he finds the way through the fog of lies, he is in a position to do several things: he asserts the duty to live by God’s Law; he releases the woman from the grip of her accusers, her ‘reputation’ unharmed; he shows his own concern and respect for the marginalised; and he even brings about some kind of repentance and self-examination on the part of the accusers. Everyone gains something. But it is a process fraught with dangers.
We live in a time of competing versions of the truth. We cannot escape the clamour. We have to try to find a way through. We are told we have to take sides. In fact, we are told there is only one side to take. Never mind past sins. Don’t let that distract you. People’s lives are at stake.
Copyright ©️2022 Paul McGowan
Reflection by Paul McGowan
Fourth Sunday of Lent: Luke 15 The Man with Two Sons
A lot has been invested in the interpretation of this parable. Many eminent figures in Church history have seen it as primarily allegorical. The father is God, the younger son the repentant Christian, the elder brother the recalcitrant Jewish legalists. The traditional title has been contested on the grounds that it is too narrow. And so on. It is almost too familiar to cut through to us any more.
The most self-consciously dramatic of the parables, it unfolds deliberately in four parts. At the end of each part there is a clear need to pause and comment (though on first hearing or reading it could not be obvious that there is more to come; it would be possible to end the story after each part – four different parables in one). Reactions to what has just been narrated in each part may well need to be adjusted or even discarded, as the next part is revealed. It plays on our expectations, only to introduce one twist after another. And so it proceeds, up to, and including, the last part. This is the crunch. Because there it stops.
What happened next? Where do we go from here? There has to be a Part Five. Two men in a field. They have both spoken their mind. They have made their speeches, stated their positions. Now they have to make another move. They can’t stand in the field forever. They are looking at the same facts but seeing different meanings. Although at least they are telling the truth. They do not contradict each other. They simply emphasise different priorities; the father increasingly anxious; the son stuck with his pain. The younger son clearly wrecked the joint. But it could have been worse. Yes, he put us through it. But nobody died. We can get over it, can’t we?
Well, OK, but this is just a story, we are desperate to say. We could go on indefinitely imputing this or that motivation to the characters and never reach an agreement on what the story is meant to teach us. Surely, its purpose is to tell us some profound truths about ourselves and God.
The struggle taking place in Ukraine is a war of words, as well as on the ground. Vastly differing perspectives compete for our support. We would like there to be an easy solution. We can’t quite understand how we got ourselves into this situation, almost without noticing. If only we could turn back the clock we would be able to avoid the mistakes. But we can’t. We can’t turn back the clock, or avoid mistakes. Once the game starts in earnest, there are no moves we can make which return the pieces to their starting positions.
Copyright ©️2022 Paul McGowan
Poem by Patricia Pulham
Freedom to be
I am the Lord, the Lover of Mankind.
You cannot trap me in the tabernacle,
Chain me in the church,
Limit me by liturgy,
Define me by dogma.
Fling open your cathedral doors and set me free-
Free to sleep in the doorway with the homeless,
Free to stand in the food-bank queue,
Free to share the shame of the woman in the brothel,
Free to be rejected as I seek safety in your country,
Free for my gifts to be spurned because I have a beauty
Only God can see.
Come out now from your church and set me free.
Come with me, meet me in the places where I want to be.
Copyright ©️2022 Patricia Pulham
Reflection by Fr Rob Esdaile
Third Sunday of Lent: Human Disasters & Divine Mercy
Pontius Pilate was not the measured philosopher that we meet in the Fourth Gospel, with his famous question to Jesus: “Truth, what is that?” Nor was he an individual overly concerned with keeping the people he ruled over happy. Indeed, he reportedly introduced imperial emblems which bore the image of Tiberius Caesar into the city, provoking riots by this breach of the Jewish ban on ‘graven images’. He kept Caiaphas as High Priest throughout his period in office (Ad 26-36?), working with the Sadducee faction in Judaism and allegedly raiding the Temple’s funds to build an aqueduct. And his ten-year reign as governor of Judaea was probably ended as a result of his suppression of an armed uprising near Mount Gerizim in Samaria. So it is no surprise to hear in this Sunday’s Gospel of another incident in which this thuggish figure attacked Galilean pilgrims in Jerusalem, “mingling their blood with that of their sacrifices” – a chilling phrase that resounds in the rubble of Ukrainian cities today. Pilate and Putin have a lot in common.
Alongside that incident, Jesus places another bit of ‘local news’, of the collapse of a tower in Jerusalem’s old city wall that killed 18 people – a natural disaster (or one caused by human negligence, more likely). The point that Jesus draws from both these events is that the deaths of the victims are not a sign of divine wrath or a punishment for their sins. They are no more ‘guilty’ than anyone else. Yet Jesus is not content to leave things there, simply noting that “bad stuff happens to good people, too.” Rather, he urges us to take heed that “unless [we] repent [we] shall all perish as they did.” Mortality is what we all have in common. Our life-span is not something we can take for granted. We only have today in which to live and love. Now is the time to “get our affairs in order” – not by a visit to our solicitor but by our decisions about how we wish to live.
The unpredictability of life is something of which we have all been reminded in recent days by the images – and the refugees – coming out of the Ukraine. But alongside this rather grim aspect of life, Luke’s Jesus places another story with a more hopeful theme. He tells a story of a landowner’s frustration at the failure of his fig-tree to bear fruit, year after year. “Get rid of it!” he yells at the gardener. But the gardener speaks up: “Give me time to dig round it and manure it …” Jesus is that gardener. When cynical calculation suggests that there is nothing that can be done, he invests his energy and love in the barren tree, the lost sheep, the sinner, the outcast, the disfigured, the leper, the public sinner … They also only have today in which to live, encounter his love, hear his Word and respond with their heart. One more year, one more day … As St. Paul writes elsewhere: “Now is the favourable time. This is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6.2) What are we going to do about it?
Copyright ©️2022 Rob Esdaile
Reflection by Paul McGowan
Second Sunday of Lent: Luke 9: The Transfiguration
Prayer – Interaction with the Scriptures – Recognition – Confirmation. This is the process we observe in this scene.
Moses and Elijah were talking with Jesus. This is the heart of the story. What was said is not the point. The dialogue is what we are shown. The exchange is the focus. There is too much in the Law and the Prophets to specify the topic of conversation. It is the essence of what they stand for which is brought to us here, as represented by the two eminent figures. Jesus is in dialogue and exchange with the great achievements of his past, made overwhelmingly present in his own prayers. A living tradition, as we say.
Whose perception are we dealing with here? Luke was not present. The disciples were half asleep. Some onlookers were unable even to cope with divine intervention when they heard it. Jesus sweeps aside any sort of permanent memorial or account.
That leaves the reader, the text and the Spirit. Dialogue and exchange. Our present with our past. Individually and collectively. In the company of the Spirit.
When this war began, clear thinking went out the window. Every day adds more complexity. This morning I caught up with the biological weapons bit and immediately walked into another blizzard of confusion.
And then, out of the blue, came news of a concert to honour the White Rose movement, the best-known member being Sophie Scholl. I take her as the Patron Saint of anti-war leafleters. The confusion vanished. The living tradition returned. It is wonderful to be here.
Copyright ©️2022 Paul McGowan
York Prayer Chain for Peace
In our Ash Wednesday Service, we were delighted to learn of the Prayer Chain for Peace created by the students and staff of All Saints School, York earlier that day and were later sent a link to watch. It’s an inspiring sight.
Poem by Patricia Pulham: Excuses, Excuses
And the Lord said, “Come”
And I said, “In a minute, Lord,
But I’ll just finish this first.
I won’t be long,
But it’s really important”
And the Lord said, “Listen”
And I said
“ I am listening but
It’s a bit hard to hear You
With all these other voices around.
I need to hear what they’re saying.”
And the Lord said, “Speak”
And I said “ But I get so embarrassed
It’s really difficult for me.
I don’t know what to say
And I won’t have any friends anymore.”
And the Lord said, “Act”
And I said “ but no one has shown me what to do.
I haven’t got the skills
And I don’t know what might happen.”
And the Lord said, “Believe”
And I said “I try to. But maybe what I heard
Isn’t exactly how it happened.
Life is different now,
And scientists have found a lot more out.”
And the Lord said, “Love”
And I said “But I do.
I love my family so much
And those little starving children
Half a world away.
But I couldn’t possibly love
Someone who hurt them.”
And the Lord said “Follow”
And I said “Soon I will,
But you are getting too far ahead
And I haven’t got a map.”
Then the Lord said “ Take my hand”
And held it out to me,
And I said “Amen”.
Copyright ©️2022 Patricia Pulham
Reflection by Paul McGowan
First Sunday of Lent: Luke 4: 1-13
Right now, it is hard to know what to say. What to say that will be heard, that is. More and more sections of civil society (steered by political and military figures) have been co-opted into the general clamour of “unprovoked aggression” and “courageous resistance”. Even today’s Gospel reading could be fitted into that interpretation of current events.
Between Epiphany and Lent, much to our surprise, we have been dragged to the edge of another World War – the last in a series of three, as some joker put it a long time ago, when we all knew what was in store down that road.
Jesus can’t seem to find much to say, either, in this Sunday’s reading. The Devil has some good arguments. Having “spent a long time watching”, as Leonard Cohen puts it, Jesus is reduced to his own series of three, three one-liners.
Three temptations. Three ways to go. Each one seems to make sense. But to each one, Jesus finds an alternative. There is always an alternative, waiting to be dug out from deep down in our better selves. Even now.
Copyright ©️2022 Paul McGowan
Poem by Katharine Holstrom: Lent for the Hebrews
“Give us our freedom, you, Moses” they shouted,
“Give us the freedom from fear of a death.
Why did you lead us away from our slavery,
Out of the bonds of the slavery that clutched us,
Half-blind, in Egypt … that place that was home?
Here in the desert we languish, accursed,
Following you, Moses – you “whom God chose”!
Our stomachs cry out for the flesh-pots of Egypt,
Our throats, like this sand, are parched dry by the sun –
While the Nile was familiar, we knew where we stood.
You call us to freedom (you say that God called you)
But freedom is scary: we’re all terrified.
Your demands are inhuman, our trust is reluctant.
False gods promise comfort, security (sleep).
Oh Moses, deceiver, you would take us too far.”
“My people, my people, I am Yahweh who loves you.
Listen to Moses, the servant I’ve sent.
My dream is your saving – my plan is your freedom.
Walk tall in the light of my pillar of cloud,
You whom I hold in the palm of my hand.”
Copyright ©️ 2021 Katherine Holstrom Prayers for Pax Christi – a collection of 25 poems is available for £5.00 from the shop
This poem is taken from Katharine Holmstrom’s book: Poems for Pax Christi, a collection of twenty-five poems which address issues of peace and faith. it is available from our shop for £4.00.
Lent Resources Flyer
This flyer gives details of Pax Christi’s 2022 Lent Resources: books, card and olive wood crosses…
Ash Wednesday Witness
Independent Catholic News has a report of both the national Pax Christi online service and activities from across the country.
Pax Christi Liverpool Ash Wednesday Liturgy
Janette Harper writes…
Our Ash Wednesday public liturgy in Liverpool City Centre attracted around 40 people and more media interest than usual because of the situation in Ukraine .
After setting off from St Lukes Church, we made our way to the Statue of Reconciliation to pray together the Coventry Litany . We drew on teachings of Pope Francis on the immorality of nuclear weapons: their possession, their intended use and our governments unwillingness to participate in the TPNW Negotiations .
At Church Street the heart of the shopping area, we listened to extracts from Archbishop Wester’s Pastoral Letter. His diocese in Santa Fe New Mexico is in the midst of the nuclear weapons site . Archbishop Wester invites us to dialogue on disarmament. We also heard a Gospel reading of the Transfiguration before ashes were distributed and an image of Trident was marked with ashes too,
Leaving there we headed to Lord Street where we listed to extracts from Thich Nat Hanh Love Letter to the Earth and Laudato Si and we prayed for all whose lives have been blighted by weapons tests, including Pripyat near Chernobyl where there was a catastrophic nuclear accident, and indigenous communities across the world where nuclear weapons have been tested,
We remembered local victims of knife and gun crime in our cities too and how the sacredness of life can be so easily violated by our world leaders and politicians.
After pausing at the Law Courts to hear Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald read an extract from The Catholic Church Leaders Statement in support of the TPNW, we finished at the Town Hall asking the Mayor to sign up to Liverpool joining the Nuclear Ban Communities. We took sunflower seeds home to plant .
We were supported by Merseyside CND whom we hope to work more closely with on the Nuclear Ban issue, Quakers, Iraneus Community members, and individual J&P members We did two radio interviews and a local TV Channel filmed and interviewed members.
A message of support was received from the Bishop ofWarrington
Coventry Ash Wednesday Witness
The readings and reflections for the Walk of Witness can be downloaded here – and would be a powerful resource for personal Lenten prayer – and provide inspiration for a similar witness in your own locality.
Stations of the Cross: Online & Local Radio
Cambridge Justice & Peace Group invite you to join them for the Stations of the Cross at 7:30 until about 8:10 every Wednesday evening from 9th March until 6th April, either online or on Radio Maria England. Reflections based on Pope Francis’s encyclical “Fratelli Tutti”. Details from email@example.com and from https://radiomariaengland.uk
The Beauty We Must Hold Fast To
The Pax Christi USA Reflections for Lent. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, they’ve been written by pioneer members including prof Joe Fahey, Sr Mary Lou Kownacki, Nancy small and Sr Mary Evelyn Jegen. This e-booklet can be downloaded for $4 from Pax Christi USA
The Lenten Reflection Guide for 2022 from the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
offers reflections from Maryknoll missioners, questions, prayers, and actions based on each Sunday’s Scripture readings and in light of Catholic social teaching on human rights and Maryknoll mission experience. The guide begins the first Sunday of Lent, March 6, and offers weekly reflections through Palm Sunday, April 10. Use this guide individually or in small groups to reflect on your life patterns, to pray more deeply, and to renew your spirit to face the realities of our world. download here
“Cry for Hope” in Lent
“Cry for Hope” in Lent is based on the document produced in July 2022 by leaders of the Christian community in the Holy Land under the banner of Kairos Palestine. Available from Sabeel-Kairos
Life on the Breadline
“inspired by [Breadline’s] three years of research on the Life on the Breadline project. Life on the Breadline has analysed Christian responses to poverty in the UK in the context of austerity.”
Women in the Catholic Church: Towards the Synod in Dialogue (2 March – 6 April 2022)
Catherine of Siena College (CSC) is partnering with Catholic Women Speak(CWS) to offer a six week course exploring a wide range oftheological and pastoral perspectives and personal stories from Catholic women around the world. This course was designed by Professor Tina Beattie, it comprises a weekly recorded video lecture by Tina, a weekly live Zoom seminar on Wednesdays, an online discussion forum and access to a wide range of online resources. For more information or to register for the course, please contact Dr Anna Cantelmi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Life on the Breadline Lent course, #BreadlineResearch
Creator God, as we begin our journey through Lent, help us to be among those who bring good news to the poor. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Leaflet for Lent: New Beginnings – A Journey from Lent to Easter
Anne O’Connor has once again produced a short leaflet of daily readings and prayer reflections based on the readings of the day https://jpshrewsbury.files.wordpress.com/2022/02/new-beginnings-e28093-a-journey-from-lent-to-easter.pdf
Here is a taster…
ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2
Be reconciled to God … now is the favourable time. 2 Cor 5:20 – 6:2 “The journey with the Lord is a journey into love.”
Resources for Children & Schools
Palm Sunday Assembly:Reflections on peace for Holy Week