Morena – Passionist Family Group members, Clergy and friends,
I hope this finds you well and rested after Christmas and New Year period. I received a book written by Michelle Obama titled “The Light we carry’. It was a very enjoyable read and gave me a better understanding of her self, life, background and thoughts on what is happening across the globe.
In part of what I read I thought the following was worth reflecting on. She writes: “Dr. Vivek Murphy – Surgeon general of the US went on a tour in 2014 to ask Americans about their health and well-being. He wrote in his 2020 book ‘Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World’ which came out as the Pandemic struck.
“Even before the coronavirus took a wrecking ball to our patterns of friendship and sociability, Americans were consistently reporting that what was missing from their lives was a sense of belonging, a simple feeling of being ‘at home’.”
This struck me as I have seen the effects of Covid all around New Zealand but also this sense of alienation from what was known and thought to be the way. People have seen and experienced a huge drop in church attendance. This has also played out in volunteering across all sectors whether secular or religious. Families have not been spared and this constant demand on what to have and what to do. There is a disconnect from people being put into space to save their health, their family which has led to withdrawing from activities, visits, and a focus on being safe others would say afraid.
What we have seen is the increase on this bigger epidemic which is that ‘of loneliness’ and it pervades every level of our society. The conspiracies, the distrust of mainstream and the rise of conservatism puts people on alert and the pervading sense of violence is ever increasing as is ‘fear’. In this setting, we look for ‘faith’ examples. People still want the safety-first approach but lots of things have changed, and our old structures are not serving to reassure or encourage people to risk, to reach out, to be missionary. Pope Francis sent a message to the Church for this World Day 2023. He began by reflecting on the state of the world at the moment, defined and summed up by Covid, Ukraine and the ecological suffering of the earth itself. Pope Francis then goes on:
”What then is being asked of us? First of all, to let our hearts be changed by our experience of the crisis, to let God, at this time in history, transform our customary criteria for viewing the world around us. We can no longer think exclusively of carving out space for our personal or national interests; instead, we must think in terms of the common good, recognizing that we belong to a greater community, and opening our minds and hearts to
universal human fraternity.”
We all need to shift up a gear and apply some basic changes to a Jesus approach. Let us believe and really see that in and through our Passionist Family Group they can assist us on the road to our being brave and faithful to Jesus’ mission “To go out and make disciples….” Mat 28. We are called to be ‘family’; to build ‘community’; so that others can be welcomed and made to feel a sense of home. We can get on our knees and pray all day but if we make no effort to meet others where they are and how they are then we can expect little from what is already happening. We need to get to know others, who are they? Where do they come from? What do you like? What food? Etc.
Our going to church is a place of gathering celebrating a lived faith therefore put the cart behind the horse so to speak. Build the community, get to know one another find God in all and through all and out of this our reason to celebrate comes alive and encourages us to embrace a faith that is vibrant, that is real and one that addresses the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters. As St Paul of the Cross wrote: “When you go into the garden of prayer do not collect the leaves of good feelings, rather gather the fruit of imitating Jesus” .
Let us embrace 2023 and see that we have much to do and much to ‘be’ – to be a leaven so that others can share in fellowship just as we have done through our involvement ‘to be family’ through our Passionist Family Groups.
Have a good week –
Blessings and prayer,
Scripture reflection:. Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, 22 January 2023.
Jesus, Light of the World
First reading: Isaiah 8:23 – 9:3
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 26(27):1, 4, 13-14
Second reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23
Link to readings: click here
Today’s readings proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, the light of the world: a beacon who draws all peoples to himself.
When the old tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were being deported to Assyria, Isaiah promised that their land, then deeply overshadowed by turmoil and war, would one day witness a great light in their midst (First Reading). In the Gospel, St Matthew sees the fulfilment of this prophecy. Jesus was, and is, that light. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus settles in Galilee, a region that corresponds to the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali. After proclaiming the kingdom of heaven, it is striking that his first action is to call his first disciples. The task of witnessing to the kingdom is not something to be done by Jesus alone. Rather he calls followers to share in and continue this work.
If we are to walk in the light of Jesus, Paul warns against tribalism, differences and division. Jesus alone is our light, not any of his followers. Paul’s own role is to be a preacher to the humble and to proclaim the counter-cultural message of the cross (Second Reading). The Psalm is an eloquent prayer of trust, where the psalmist calls on the Lord as his light and his help.
This week, we may like to ask the Lord for that light and help in our own lives, and in the lives of all humanity. We pray that we might find ways of sharing his light and compassion with all whom we meet in our suffering world.
Update: The start of another New Year with our hopes, aspirations, resolutions and then the moving back into routines, busyness and the holidays gloss begins to fade.. I will be down south at the end of Jan (next week) meet with Ashburton people who are aving a relaunch of PFG’s 19th February; hopefully catch ChCh West PP Fr Michael Therese and then ChCH South to speak at masses as tey prepare their relaunch of PFG’s, Catch up with Aileen and Murray Straight and tne home Monday 30th Jan.
Passionist Companions were officially constituted in our Province in 2002. Companions seek to live Passionist spirituality in their various life circumstances (family, home, community, place of work, parish, relationships).
There are several Companions groups, mostly based around a local Passionist community such as at Holy Cross. Professed Passionists participate as equal members in these local groups but they do not lead the groups. Members gather most months of the year for a time of reflection, sharing and social enjoyment. Most years we have a Passionist Institute offering more time to reflect and share about aspects of the Passionist charism. In New Zealand there are groups that gather in Christchurch, Napier/Hastings, New Plymouth and Auckland and these have mainly come through the Passionist Family Group Movement. In Auckland the Companions have an annual overnight retreat. This year Paul Traynor will be leading this experience When; Feb 25/26th 2023, arrive from 12.00 for a 1pm start.
Where: Vaughan Park, Long Bay. Auckland.
Companions from other areas are invited to share in this occasion.
For more detail and information: please contact Shelly Ward – Companions Coordinator 0273886114 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some Companions cannot easily gather with a local group because of their geographical location or because of physical limitations. They actively belong to a group through email and phone contact and occasional visits. They receive and share relevant information through the Congregational or Province website, email attachments etc. Those who belong are expected to develop a genuine link with the Congregation and be committed to furthering their understanding of the Passionist charism, through participation in local Companion group activities and the particular formation opportunities that are offered.
‘Come and See’ opportunities are encouraged, so a warm invitation is offered to explore whether a local group suits you. The charism is caught more than taught, so much of the formation is informal.
The majority of our Passionist Companions are linked to the Province and the Congregation through their association with the local community, the local Passionist parish, the Passionist Family Group Movement, or as Passionist Youth and Young Adults. Any of these entities can and should promote Passionist Companions, and issue invitations personally or generally. There are printed brochures available for distribution.
The Provincial has appointed a Passionist Companions Leadership Group (PCLG) of six laity, one Passionist sister and one male professed Passionist. The coordinator is a lay Passionist. The PCLG seeks to nurture, support and sustain members, and is a reference point for networking between local groups. The PCLG provides guidance and feedback to local groups as required, and one of the members retains regular contact with the Coordinators of a particular local group. The PCLG liaises through the Coordinator with the Province Formation Commission in order to provide formation opportunities for Passionist Companions.
Formal and informal formation in Passionist spirituality is available. In this electronic age, there are abundant internet resources available for exploring the charism, as well as books, articles, DVD’s and material from past Passionist Institutes. There is a Charism library at Holy Cross.
Most local Companion groups have an annual or biennial retreat which focuses on aspects of Passionist spirituality and the relevance of the charism for us today. The PCLG has made a DVD of resources available to each Companions group. Many local groups have benefited from input from their own members and willingly share this with other groups.
If you have an interest in becoming a Passionist Companion, please visit the webpage: https://www.passionists.com/passionist-companions/ or talk with a local representative
Pease remember in your thoughts and prayer:
- Please remember Les Maloney who died on the 13 January and also for his wife Pat. They were Group coordinator and work with. The other two group coordinators to ensure PFG’s continued and it has they led form twenty nine and a half years. Awesome couple. A real blessing on Hoon Hay parish under Christchurch South.
- Remember Passionist Fr Chris Mithen and Fr Brian Glesson both are currently in hospital
- We remember Bro Stan Tyler a Passionist who died recently – a humble, kind and a generous serving man.
- Please pray for Dot and Neill Wilson (Invercargill) – their son-in-law Mark married to Dot’s daughter Anita has been diagnosed with aggressive brain tumour, Please keep in mind their daughter Bailey and son Taylor.
- Remember Chris Monaghan who is journeying t0 Scotland to led a retreat
- Keep in your prayer Norma Bellamy’s grandson Teddy – recovering from an operation. Thoughts and prayer are with the family.
- Keep in your prayer Anne & peter Green who have lost another daughter recently in the UK. Our hearts go out to them.
- Remember Pat and Rod Carson
- Remember a friend whose sister’s son is awaiting trial.
- Aidan son of Josie and Phil McIntyre – he is very sick and his parents are his caregivers.
- Fr Anthony from Hastings – remember him and his family in NZ and Myanmar- also Fr Trung and the parishioners
- John Arthurs – brother of Bob. We remember John’s wife Valerie and Bob & Pamela’s family
- Ursula Corcoran’s family
- Jenny Wullings – has an Op in late January – in a lot of pain. John is supporting her.
- Paul Darbyshire (Linda and family)
- Gerard and Linda Daly – tragic loss of their son, Brett. Keep the family in your prayer.
- Boyd Dunlop (Judith and family) Boyds is recovering very well.
- Paeroa PFG lost their dear friend and long time member Liz Taylor
- Wilma Schimanski and family
- Julie Neve her two children, family and friends. –
- Please remember Carmel Cole’s family– she and her late husband Don a long time benefactors of “The Fort” (Passionist Retreat in Brisbane)
- Remember Fr Ray Sanchez CP – for his health concerns
- Fr Gerard Aynsley
- Your own intentions
Reminder: 5 Aims and Goals
- share & celebrate life & faith
- support one another (especially in need)
- reaching out to & include others
- build community/extended family
- show example to children
- “I like telling Dad jokes. Sometimes he laughs!”
- “What’s the best smelling insect?” “A deodor-ant.”
- “I used to be a personal trainer. Then I gave my too weak notice.”
- “Did I tell you the time I fell in love during a backflip? I was heels over head!”
- “If a child refuses to sleep during nap time, are they guilty of resisting a rest?”
- “I ordered a chicken and an egg online. I’ll let you know.”
- “It takes guts to be an organ donor.”
- “If you see a crime at an Apple Store, does that make you an iWitness?”
- “I’m so good at sleeping, I can do it with my eyes closed!”
- “I was going to tell a time-traveling joke, but you guys didn’t like it.”