Saturday 30 July 2011

Praying for WYD Carmelite Pilgrims

Dear Community:
We write to inform you that on 17th August a meeting of young Carmelites will be held in Madrid as a part of World Youth Day.
 A lot of young people will participate, about 500, but the realization of this beautiful dream is not just for young people who are going to be present in Madrid but for all of us in the Carmelite Family.

We are working on "a place of prayer" as our primitive Mount Carmel, a place where young Carmelites, who cannot be here in person, can meet.
We are preparing a place where we will meet with thousands of young Carmelites around the world (we will exchange materials through the internet, so that everyone can participate), a place to share our experiences and where Our Lady awaits, a place to share like a big family.

This is the reason we decided to contact you, we need you to pray for this exciting day and send the letter that we attach to all the young Carmelites you know (brothers, sisters, volunteers or young people who participate in our spirituality ...)
17th August is a very important day in the calendar of all young Carmelites, it is our day, we have a special event.
The best gift we can give our young Carmelites is to live a Christian Carmelite, therefore we ask you to help us to motivate them, all together we can make this day, that changes the hearts of a lot of young people, special.

Best Regards,

Lugar de Oración - Encuentro de Jóvenes Carmelitas Madrid 2011

Day for Life

The annual Day for Life will be held in parishes and communities throughout England and Wales this Sunday, 31st July 2011. This day is dedicated each year to celebrating the dignity of life from conception to natural death - and this year it focuses on what it means to live a full and happy life. It takes as its starting point the words of Pope Benedict during his recent visit to Britain when he said: 'Happiness is something we all want, but one of the greatest tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple - true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.' (Address to Young People at Twickenham on 17th September 2010)

Day for Life, the Day in the Church’s year dedicated to celebrating the dignity of life from conception to natural death this year reflects on what it means to live a full and happy life. It takes as its starting point the words of Pope Benedict during his recent visit to Britain, when he said: ‘Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts’. (Pope Benedict XVI, The Big Assembly: Address to Young People, Twickenham, England, 17th September 2010).

What is happiness and what makes us happy? Is it the feeling of the sun on your face after a long winter? Is it how you feel in the morning or at the end of a good day? Does a bar of chocolate make you smile? Is it dependent on other people, or can you feel happy alone? Is it a surface feeling or does it go deeper?

It is, in fact, impossible not to want to be happy – we all yearn for happiness. Reinhold Niebuhr's ‘Serenity Prayer’ asks that ‘I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the Next’.

So what is it? How do we reach it? Well, happiness is a consequence, not an aim or end. Our aim or end in all things is to love. When our effort is in loving, we are happy. Happiness is often elusive. If you set out to catch it, if you do things with the aim of making yourself happy, happiness will elude you. We are happiest when we are serving, when we are giving ourselves wholeheartedly and forgetting our self.

True happiness involves surrender, self-sacrifice and being prepared to suffer – it involves a calling to love.

An ancient Persian Tradition tells the story of an egotistical young man who falls in love with a beautiful young woman. He decides to ask her to be his wife and full of confidence knocks at her door. Hearing the knock, she asks ‘Who is it?’ and expecting that she will recognise his voice, he says ‘It’s me’. But she replies ‘I don’t know you’. He comes back and knocks and she asks again, ‘Who is it?’ He confidently replies ‘it’s me,’ but her reply is ‘Sorry, I don’t know you’. He is deeply disturbed and goes away to the desert to fast and pray.

After a period of time, he returns from the desert and returns to the door of the one he loves, where she asks him, ‘Who is it?’ This time he whispers very softly ‘It’s you’ and the door opens. Through his own experience of suffering in the desert, the young man discovers that his heart’s deepest desire is to give joy to the one he loves.

It is a journey from selfishness to selflessness; from self-interest to self-forgetfulness. It’s about you, not me.

Can happiness be measured? The government seem to think so – it has invested two million pounds into research co-ordinated by the National Office for Statistics into what makes us happy and affects our general sense of wellbeing. Once completed, the ‘National Wellbeing Index’ will play an important role in future policy-making decisions.

Despite being a much wealthier nation, we are not necessarily any happier than we were five decades ago. It’s not wealth, health, physical attractiveness or a promotion which lead to lasting happiness. In the first reading for this year’s Day for Life, the Prophet Isaiah tells us very simply what we have to do to find true happiness and the fulfilment of our desires. We have simply to listen to the Lord and put our faith in his promise.

‘Listen, listen to me and you will have good things to eat
and rich food to enjoy.
Pay attention,
come to me;
listen, and your soul will live.’ (Isaiah 55:2-3)

The Gospels are full of joy, Gaudium; in the Christmas scene, the angels announce exceedingly great joy; the shepherds were full of joy, the wise men came with exceedingly great joy, and why? Because they discovered our Lord! To find joy we must also discover that God is very close to us. Those wise men probably put themselves to a great deal of trouble to follow the star and at no small expense. Everything worthwhile is costly.

Suffering is the bowl which holds our joy. Saint Josemaria Escriva said that “happiness has its roots in the form of a cross”, in other words that it is the fruit of hard work; self-giving, self-denial and a desire to serve others in all things. Without the Cross there is no Resurrection, but the Cross is not the final word…. There IS the Resurrection; there is joy as a result of the sufferings of the Passion and Cross.

A priest from the West visiting Russia some years ago noticed a sad widow in Church. He spoke to her to listen to her and to encourage her, but he also said to her “you have to struggle against this sadness”. It may be costly to try to bring ourselves out of sadness or self-pity and sometimes life gives us hard knocks… but that is where we need to embrace the Cross – “…and your sorrow will turn into joy” Jn 16,20. In that effort we can encourage others. We can ask ourselves: Am I a source of joy for those who live or work with me? Does my daily presence among them draw them closer to God?

Let’s take ourselves a little less seriously, without trivialising anything that’s important, let’s try to see the lighter side of things. The greatest beauty secret of all time - and it’s free - is a smile! Smiles are contagious. But there’s an awful lot that goes behind a smile - it begins in the heart; it’s an attitude of gratitude and of grace. Some research has been carried out into what makes us smile: its results include being grateful, walking the dog, swimming with dolphins, and singing (a 2007 study of British choral singers found a direct link between singing and mental well-being).

Our time is precious, and for every minute we are angry, we lose sixty seconds of happiness! Everybody can be happy with God – forever and ever. Amen.

Day for Life Prayer
We thank you Lord for the gift of life.
Help us to appreciate the unique dignity of every person and the individual contribution they make to the world, in fulfilment of the task you give them.
Enable us by your grace to promote their well-being, serving you in one another in a spirit of generosity, through Christ Jesus Our Lord. Amen.

And as a little addition for this special day and subject:
Help me to see the funny side, the lighter side of things, help me to be generous in giving my smile and happiness to all I meet today.
God has created me to do Him some definite service.
He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me.
Still, He knows what He is about.
Blessed John Henry Newman

Source: Day for Life

Thursday 28 July 2011

Mary's Meals to feed a further 6,000 children

Six thousand children who have been affected by the drought in east Africa will start to receive a daily meal on Monday, through the charity Mary’s Meals.
The charity, which provides school meals in some of the world’s poorest communities, has been working in the region for several years, and already feeds thousands of children in South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. Now its work in the Diocese of Lodwar, in drought-hit northern Kenya, is set to reach more of those in need.

The assistance will target nursery-aged children, the age-group at the most at risk from hunger-related diseases, helping to prevent potentially life-threatening cases of malnutrition and ensuring that they receive crucial nourishment during the six week summer holiday, when other sources of food are not available. 
The new programme will bring the total number of children that Mary’s Meals is feeding in Kenya to more than 24,000. The six thousand reached by the new programme are in addition to 3,700 already supported in Lodwar and more than 14,000 elsewhere in Kenya. 
Magnus MacFarlane Barrow, Mary’s Meals chief executive, said: “The situation in Turkana has become increasingly desperate, with failed rains leading to dire food and water shortages. What was already a crisis has become an emergency, so when our partners asked for help to feed more hungry children, we felt compelled to give it.” 
The new programme will provide a daily meal of maize and beans for 6,000 children aged from three to six over the next six weeks, with a review at the end of that period. In addition to the children attending the nurseries, it is expected that other older and younger children will be drawn to the centres by the prospect of food.
The children who will benefit come from pastoralist families who normally depend on goats and cattle for their livelihoods. As more animals die, many are subsisting on wild fruits such as doum palm seeds, and, where they have survived, the blood and milk of their live animals.
Tim Flynn, administrator for the Diocese of Lodwar, which delivers Mary’s Meals in the region, reports that the situation is worsening “Hunger is widespread and animals have started to die,” he said. “We know that things are going to get worse because there is no expectation of any rain, if it comes at all, before October.” 
More than a third of children under five in Turkana are severely underweight, an indication of the urgency of a situation that is causing families to take increasing risks in search of food. While some camp by the road-side in the hope of donations from passers-by, others are venturing into hostile territory to trade beads for food. Last month a group of travellers that included women and children were massacred by militia as they returned from a trip to find food in Ethiopia.
Against this background, the nutritious school meal of beans and maize mash, provided by Mary’s Meals, is a source of reassurance and hope.
“The drought has meant that more children come to school in order to secure at least a meal,” says Roseline Aite Onakuta, development co-ordinator for the Diocese of Lodwar. “During incidences of raids, parents and their children move to safer areas in fear of their lives. This increases the number of children enrolled in the nurseries around the secure places.”
“We are considering how we can respond to further urgent requests for more help from our friends and partners in Northern Kenya,” says Magnus.

“Chronic hunger is one of the main reasons that children miss out on education. Wherever possible, the meals that Mary’s Meals provides are delivered in schools, because we know that an education provides children with the tools they need to escape poverty. Mary’s Meals’ vision is that every child in the world should receive a daily meal in their place of education. Alongside this emergency response, our commitment to that vision continues.”
It costs Mary’s Meals a global average of £9.40 to feed a child for a year.
Source: Mary's Meals

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Blessed Titus Brandsma, O.Carm.

Bl Titus Bradsma - friar & martyr
Born at Bolsward (The Netherlands) in 1861, Blessed Titus Brandsma joined the Carmelite Order as a young man. Ordained priest in 1905, he obtained a doctorate in philosophy in Rome. He then taught in various schools in Holland and was named professor of philosophy and of the history of mysticism in the Catholic University of Nijmegen where he also served as Rector Magnificus. He was noted for his constant availability to everyone. He was a professional journalist, and in 1935 he was appointed ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists. Both before and during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands he fought, faithful to the Gospel, against the spread of the Nazi ideology and for the freedom of Catholic education and the Catholic press. For this he was arrested and sent to a succession of prisons and concentration camps where he brought comfort and peace to hsi fellow prisoners and did good even to his tormentors. In 1942, after much suffereing and humiliations he was killed at Dachau. He was beatified by John Paul II on November 3rd 1985.

Let us pray.
God our Father,
source of life and freedom,
through your Holy Spirit you gave the Carmelite Titus Brandsma
the courage to affirm human dignity even in the midst of suffering and degrading persecution.
Grant us that same Spirit,
so that, refusing all compromise with error,
we may always and everywhere give coherant witness
to your abiding presence among us.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Icon of Blessed Titus Brandsma and St Edith Stein
at the Carmelite Friary, Faversham, Kent.

Monday 25 July 2011

Countdown to WYD 2011

In just under three weeks a small group of young people who feel inspired by the Carmelite Way will join the pilgrims of Southwark diocese for the World Youth Day 2011 held in Madrid, Spain. The Carmelite group will gather at the Carmelite parish of English Martyrs, Walworth for a commissioning Mass at 10am on Sunday 14th August and the off to Heathrow for our flight to Madrid. Whilst in Madrid we will be staying at the Cabrini College. On Wednesday 17th of August, Carmelite pilgrims from all over the world will gather with our Prior General, Fr Fernando Millan Romeral, for a time of reflection, sharing and celebration.

We are looking forward to this trip, although for the friars the prospect of 40 degree heat and sleeping on a school floor for 8 nights is a daunting prospect! We know that God will be doing some amazing work amongst us and our fellow pilgrims during that time. Please pray for us and we, in turn, will hold you in our prayer

This following prayer is one in prepartion for the festival in Madrid.

Friend and Lord Jesus Christ
Friend and Lord Jesus Christ,
How great You are!
With Your words and Works You have revealed to us
Who God is, Your Father and our Father,
and Who You are: our Savior.
You call us to be with You.

We wish to follow You wherever You go.
We thank You for Your Incarnation.
You are the Eternal Son of God,
but You humbled Yourself and became man.
We thank You for Your Death and Resurrection.
You obeyed the Father's will to the extreme
and for this reason You are the Lord of all persons and things.
We thank You for having remained amongst us
in the Eucharist.
Your Presence, Your Sacrifice, Your Banquet
Invite us to remain always united to You.
You Call us to work with You.
We wish to go wherever You send us:
to announce Your name, to heal in Your Name,
to bring all of our brothers to You.

Grant us Your Holy Spirit, to enlighten and strengthen us.
The Virgin Mary, the Mother You gave us on the cross,
always encourages us to do what You say.
You are our Life. May our thoughts,
our love and our actions
always be rooted in You!
You are our Rock. May our faith in You
always be the solid foundation
of our life!

We pray for Pope Benedict XVI,
for the Bishops and for all those who
are preparing the next World Youth Day
in Madrid.
We pray for our family and friends
and especially for
all the young people who will get to know you
in this encounter, thanks to the firm and joyful
testimony of the faith.

Fr Damian, part of the Carmelite group and John Toryusen, the Southwark pilgrimage director, hard at work!

To find out more about World Youth Day - follow the link-

Saturday 23 July 2011

A Poustinia Experience

Br Torsten and Br Tiago spent the last week on retreat. Many who come to Aylesford comment on its peace and beauty but living here is a different reality. For us to experience that peace and beauty it is good to go to a place that is unfamiliar. Torsten and Tiago went with Fr Damian for a directed retreat with a different format to the rhythm of life here at Aylesford. Each friar, whilst they were away lived in a Poustinia.

 A Poustinia
 Originally a Russian Orthodox tradition, the poustinia was introduced to Roman Catholic spirituality by the Catholic social activist Catherine Doherty in her best-selling book Poustinia: Christian Spirituality of the East for Western Man. Although originating with ancient startsy (wise Russian elders, sg. starets), Catherine's popular book made the concept of poustinia accessible to modern Western men and women. In it, she describes the poustinia as "an entry into the desert, a lonely place, a silent place, where one can lift the two arms of prayer and penance to God in antonement, intercession, reparation for one's sins and those of one's brothers.... To go into the poustinia means to listen to God. It means entering into kenosis — the emptying of oneself." She promotes the poustinia as a place where anyone — in any walk of life — can go for 24 hours of silence, solitude and prayer. Ultimately, however, the poustinik's call is to the desert of one's own heart wherein he dwells with God alone, whether in the workplace or in a solitary locale

Inside the Poustinia
A poustinia cabin or room generally consists of a bed, a table and chair, a cross, and a Bible.

So we each entered into a different and more solitary rhythm of life for five days. The day was punctuated with prayer together and the celebration of the Eucharist but apart from that each was left with their own thoughts. It was a good week, living deliberately in the presence of God and his creation.

Monday 18 July 2011


My soul sings in gratitude.
I'm dancing in the mystery of God.
The light of the Holy One is within me
and I am blessed, so truly blessed.

This goes deeper than human thinking.
I am filled with awe
at Love whose only condition
is to be received.

The gift is not for the proud,
for they have no room for it.
The strong and self-sufficient ones
don't have this awareness.

But those who know their emptiness
can rejoice in Love's fullness.

It's the Love that we are made for,
the reason for our being.

It fills our inmost heart space
and brings to birth in us, the Holy One.

--Joy Cowley, Auckland, New Zealand

Please pray for Br Tiago & Br Torsten during their retreat this week.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady's Statue at the Main Shrine
Young poeple and friars gather around the statue of
Our Lady of Mount Carmel & St Simon Stock for Compline during the Brightlights festival

A very happy feast to all our readers

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Pray for us

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Bishop Michael Evans RIP

Bishop Michael at the visit of the relics of St Therese
Bishop Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia, died peacefully last night, 11 July at the age of 59. Six years ago he was diagnosed with advanced and aggressive prostate cancer, and continued his ministry throughout his treatment. Although his engagements were limited from early 2011 as his condition deteriorated, he continued to work up until his admission to hospital. In his last months he was much in the thoughts and prayers of the people of his diocese, as well as those of family, friends and his fellow Bishops.

Archbishop Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, said, "Bishop Michael will be very much missed by so many people in the Archdiocese of Southwark and the Diocese of East Anglia  -  family, friends, laity, religious and clergy. As a priest of the Archdiocese, Michael was totally committed to his priestly ministry both as a pastoral priest and Professor of Theology for many years at St John's Seminary.

Having known him as a fellow student, a friend and brother priest involved in the formation of future priests, I was delighted when he was appointed as the third Bishop of East Anglia. There Bishop Michael continued that dedication, emphasising the Bishop's role as a teacher of the faith and spending himself in building up the Diocesan family of East Anglia. He was unstinting in using his time and great talents in the service of the clergy, religious and people of the Diocese. E
ven during his long period of ill health, although increasingly restricted in what he was able to do he refused to give up. I have no doubt that he will be greeted by the Lord he served so faithfully, with the words: 'Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the Kingdom prepared for you.'"

In January 2011 Bishop Michael Evans broke the news to his diocese that he had been told he did not have long to live. In the statement 'Waiting in Joyful Hope' he said, "Rather than resign, I would like to continue among you as your bishop and the father of our diocesan family until this stage of my life ends. I do not know how long that will be. I am most grateful for the ways you have cared for and so prayerfully supported me in recent years. You remain very much in my thoughts and care."

"As I live now under the shadow of death, my prayer is very much that of St Paul that I may know something of the power of Christ's resurrection and a share in his sufferings, trusting that the Lord is with me. I pray that even now I can joyfully witness something of the good news we are all called to proclaim."

Michael Evans was born on 10th August 1951 in South London, and moved to Whitstable in Kent when he was five. He attended St Mary's Catholic Primary School there, and went on to Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury where he gained A-level passes in French, History and Latin. He went straight from the Sixth Form to study for the priesthood at St John's Seminary, Wonersh, near Guildford in Surrey.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Southwark on 22nd June 1975, and spent two years as assistant priest at St Elizabeth's in Richmond, Surrey. From 1977-1979 he studied for a Master of Theology degree at Heythrop College, University of London, and then returned to St John's Seminary for eight years as lecturer in
Christian Doctrine. While there, he was also chaplain to St Teresa's Convent School in Effingham, Surrey.

From 1985-1987 he was Vice-Rector at the seminary, with the then Monsignor Peter Smith (now Archbishop of Southwark) as Rector. From 1987-1993, he was a university chaplain at the South London Universities Chaplaincy, returning to the seminary from 1993-1995, once again as lecturer and Vice-Rector. He was one of the two assisting priests at Mgr Peter Smith's ordination as Bishop of East Anglia in May 1995.

From 1995 until 2003, Canon Michael Evans was parish priest of St Augustine's in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, a thriving parish with a Sunday Mass attendance of 1300 and with many young people actively involved in its life and worship.

He was appointed Canon Theologian of the Archdiocese of Southwark by Archbishop Michael Bowen in 1996, and had many other responsibilities. He was a regular writer of articles and pamphlets on theological issues.

Ecumenical dialogue was always an important part of his ministry. From 1991 onwards, he was a member of the British Methodist/Roman Catholic Committee, and in 1997 was appointed by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity to be one of the eight Catholic members of the International Joint Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church. Every year for over twenty seven years he spent a week's retreat at the ecumenical community at Taizé in France, and as a bishop invited young adults from the diocese to accompany him there each year.

From 1989-2003, he was a member of the Catholic Bishops' Conference Committee for Priestly Formation. From 1995-2003, he was chairman of the Archdiocese of Southwark Justice and Peace Coordinating Committee.

Of all these various roles, Canon Evans said of being a parish priest for seven and a half years: "This is the ministry I have loved most!" Much of his priestly ministry was spent working with young people, especially older teenagers and young adults.

On Friday 14 February 2003 Pope John Paul II appointed Canon Michael Evans as the Bishop of East Anglia. He succeeded the Most Reverend Peter Smith. In the presence of His Excellency Archbishop Pablo Puente, Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain; His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster ordained Canon Michael Evans as the third bishop of East Anglia at the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist, Norwich on Wednesday 19 March 2003. Most Reverend Peter Smith, the Most Reverend Michael Bowen, and many other bishops and friends were present along with Canon Evans' mother and sister.

The appointment of Canon Michael Evans kept up the connection between East Anglia and the Archdiocese of Southwark. The first two bishops, Bishop Alan Clark and Bishop Peter Smith, were both priests of that diocese.

Among his more 'secular' interests, Bishop Michael listed being a fervent life-long supporter of Leeds United Football Club, and having a great liking for the music of Shostakovich. He also had a great interest in Cambodia. His past parish was twinned with the Catholic community of Kompong Thom in Cambodia.

After becoming a bishop, he was appointed chairman of the Bishops' Conference Committee for Christian Unity, and was elected as a member of the Standing Committee of the Bishops' Conference.  He was also one of the four Christian co-Presidents of the Christian-Muslim Forum established by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a member of both the British Methodist/Catholic Committee and the International Joint Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church.

Bishop Michael Evans died peacefully in hospital on the evening of 11 July supported by the prayers of many, after continuing to serve in his diocese as his illness worsened.

May he rest in peace.
Source: Independent Catholic News

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Gifts of people with all Abilities

This weekend was a time of celebration here at Aylesford. Br. Neil renewed his vows for another year at the end of the retreat for our friars who are preparing for ministry. Br Mike Brookes of the Faversham community also renewed his vows.

On Sunday, the sun was shining, in spite of the weather forecast and we had a lovely gathering of young and old from across the diocese. We were glad to welcome Archbidhop Peter Smith for the day, and as ever, he was in fine form and humour. Joy was the hallmark of the day as the following pictures show

The Pilgrimage Banner - watch out for the transformation!


Making a joyful noise!

Organising the procession

Archbishop Peter

The drama of the Gospel unfolds ...

A riot of colour in St Joseph's Chapel
Transformation complete!

On Sunday evening the community and some of our friends gathered for another joyful celebration. Fr Joseph celebrated his thritieth anniversary of ordination. What a gift Joseph has been to the Carmelite Order and to the Church. He is a much loved member of the community here. Also celebrating a significant date was Br. Paul who hoped to be getting his bus pass for his birthday but recent legislation has delayed that for now. Paul can be quite camera shy - but I will try and find an image of him and put it up on his actual birthday. Great fun was had by all as we played boules and ate and drank in our private river garden. Thankfully our brothers regularly provide an excuse to celebrate and have fun!

Fr Joseph, pondering on how the years have flown!

Monday 11 July 2011

East Africa Drought

Last weekend we had the pleasure of welcoming Magnus MacFarlane Barrow to our home here at Aylesford. Magnus is the founder of Mary's Meals, an international organisation that offers a simple solution to world hunger. When you meet Magnus you are struck by his sincerity and commitment to the people he seeks to help. He is a man of deep faith and when you meet him you know, as Fr Brendan would say, you are in the presence of greatness. Mary's Meals offer's to the children of the poorest ofthe poor, a meal in a place of education. The meal provided is nourishing, the education provided enables the child to move out of poverty as they grow into adulthood. The figures are astounding. The charity now feeds 532,596 children each school day. The average cost to feed a child for a year is £9.40.

Magnus inspired many people here last weekend. Yesterday a family came in and made a donation to Mary's Meals. The news of the East African drought is disturbing many people and many are asking 'what can I do?' The answer is simple. Magnus teaches us that small acts of love can change people lives. To go without a bottle of wine, a take away meal, an evening in the pub will feed a child for a year. Mary's Meals have some projects in the drought area, and whatever you give will change a childs life. To help go to

The children of Turkana, Kenya, need the help of Mary's Meals more than ever.

Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Matt. 25: 37-40

Friday 8 July 2011

Who are you?

Who Are You?
Precious Child, don’t ever say that you are nobody.
You are not no body.  You are not even some body.
You are a special, one-time, never-to-be-repeated
act of God’s creation.  You are unique.
Listen!  Ever since the beginning of the universe,
when God spoke the Word that created matter,
ever since the emergence of life on this planet,
there has never been another being made
exactly like you.  Not only that.
There will never be another like you, again. 
Not ever!  Think about that for a moment.
Consider your giftedness, unlike any other.
Reflect on the position that only you can fill.
Doesn’t that say something to your heart?

Joy Cowley ~ Psalms for the Road

More Brightlights images

The Carmelite community were fully involved in the Brightlights Festival. Fr Damian was asked to be part of the core team organinising the event. Damian has been part of Brighlights in its former home of the Spec Centre in London Colney, where Damian was chaplain the the Spec community for a couple of years. Fr Brendan presided and preached at the Sunday Mass of the Festival in the lovely setting of the Rosary Way.

Fr Joseph led a seminar, Br Paul took young pilgrims aroung the friary and was a hit with all those who went on his 'Prayer in stone' walks. Br Tiago and some of the other friars in initial formation joined  discussion on religious life in the 21st century. Fr Damian led a workshop on 'listening to your heart,' which we are told led to a few tears from those taking part (the tears were good tears, we hasten to add) Sunday evening finished with an evening of entertainment provided by the festival goers themselves. Lastly, a short, candle-lit service on the shrine.

spot the friars ... and name them!

Fr Brendan in full preaching mode!

Fr Damian & Danny Curtain planning for next year ... ?

The Rosary Way provided a lovely setting for the afternoon Mass

Night Prayer at the Shrine

Monday 4 July 2011

More scenes from Brightlights

The Brightlights festival continued with a service of reconciliation. Rise Theatre company presented a powerful drama to focus our minds on the need to be reconciling and reconciled. Many young people celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A Carmelite flavour was given at the end of the evening with Compline and the Saturday station.

Sunday dawned bright and warm. Fr Christopher Jamison inspired those who heard him with a reflection on silence. Lunch was shared with a background of laughter and joy as various bands entertained the festival goers. The afternoon Mass, in the Rosary Way, was presided over by our own Fr Brendan (no photo's as Brendan is the photographer!). After a feast of pasta and rhubarb crumble the eveing festivities began. The 'I want to be a Carmelte' song preformed by the students of St Gregory's in Kenton will stick in the memory of the friars who heard it. The festival will conclude today with Mass. The community eagerly awaits the return of Brighlights next year - hopefully we will see you there!