On 11th December 2009, Fr. Tom Herbst OFM brought his new pet to tea with the Sisters at Monte Bre. The Sisters welcomed them in festive headgear. Maximus, a 3-month-old Chihuahua soon bonded with each of the Sisters and William...
Max and William
Max and Elizabeth
Needless to say, we offered to dog-sit whenever the need might arise.
On 9th December 2009, Srs. Rose and Clare attended a Symposium in Westminster Cathedral Hall, celebrating the eighth centenary of the papal approval of the First Order's Rule and Life. Sr. Clare's parents, who were visiting Monte Bre, also came with them. They all travelled by bus from Canterbury. On arriving in Westminster, they were first able to attend Mass in the Cathedral. The afternoon Symposium, entitled, 'Franciscan Ideals and Influence' consisted of four talks. It was introduced and led by Br. Seamus Mulholland OFM.
Above: Br. Seamus introducing the programme with Br. Michael Copps and Sr. Clare
left: Sr. Francis Teresa giving her talk. To her right, Sr. Clare, Br. Seamus, Leon Davison and Br. Michael.
Right: Sr. Clare giving talk.
The first speaker, Br. Michael Copps, OFM Provincial Minister, spoke about 'Franciscan Life is Life Together'. Then, Sr. Frances Teresa Downing OSC spoke on the influence of St. Clare on the Franciscan movement. The third speaker, Sr. Clare Knowles FMSL, talked about St. Francis' Canticle of Sir Brother Sun as a model for conversion. The fourth speaker was Leon Davison SFO National Minister, who talked about the development of the SFO from its origins until the present. There was time after each talk for questions from the audience. There was a break during which Srs. Francoise, Rose and Magdalene served coffee and tea for all. Secular Franciscans attended from all over the country, as a national meeting preceded the Symposium. A group came from FISC Canterbury, as well as friars OFM and Capuchin from Houses including Chilworth, Woodford, Oxford and Pantasaph. FMSL Sisters attended from Littlehampton, Burgess Hill, Canterbury and Copthorne and Poor Clares from various Houses including Arundel, Hollington and Arkley. In total, around a hundred people attended the event. It was an encouraging celebration of the growth of the Franciscan movement in its various branches up to the present day and the unity of the whole Franciscan family.
Sister Rose attended a day For Religious in Whitstable. Here are her thoughts on the event:
Sr. Kate Stogden, a Cenacle Sister, gave an Advent day for Religious at the Convent of Mercy, Whitstable on Friday 27th November from 10am to 3.30pm. The topic was Lectio Divina: Nourishing our Consecration through the Word of God. The day was attended by almost fifty religious and among those present were several Franciscan friars - some from as far away as Erith. Sr. Kate's talks were immensely enjoyable and fruitful. She urged us to rest in the Word of life given to us in Scripture. Lectio Divina is not an intellectual exercise - the emphasis is on being nourished. We read with a faith conviction that God is communicating with us, and we draw life from this encounter. To read well, we need to prepare well. Being open and generous is half the battle. Fundamentally, in Lectio when we approach the Scripture, we see it as a gift to be received, not a problem to be dissected. So we need:
faith: a belief that God can speak to us humility: understanding that we are in need of God's saving word openness: to resist the temptation to say, 'I know all this'. By Sr. Rose
Sisters from Monte Bre Community attended the evening Barn Dance organised by the Friends of the FISC. For some of our overseas students it was their first time to try this kind of dancing. But with no previous experience required, the idea is that we all learn each dance together and then we all get it wrong together, with hilariously disastrous consequences. There was a buffet supper provided by the Friends at half time. It was an ideal opportunity for new students and more seasoned members of FISC community to get to know each other. A great time was had by all.
On 29th September, Srs. Rose and Clare began volunteer work for 2 hours a week at the Canterbury Open Centre for homeless people run by The Scrine Foundation. They were introduced to the Centre and its work by Gail, the Volunteer Co-ordinator. Since the Centre had been inundated with donations of vegetables, much labour was needed to cook all these while they were still fresh. The Sisters helped in the kitchen to make these into several varieties of soup that could be frozen and used through the winter. The next week, we were stewing large amounts of donated apples.
Rose manning (or 'womaning') the blender
The work is fun in a friendly atmosphere and we enjoy chatting with the clients and other volunteers. We look forward to our weekly sessions here.
This year's Transitus at the Franciscan International Study Centre (FISC) was a commemoration of the 8th Centenary of the beginnings of Franciscan life. It was specially written and introduced by fr. David Blowey OFM Conv. This liturgy imagined Brs. Francis and Leo on Francis' final journey from Siena, where he dictated a Testament, to the Portiuncula, Assisi, where he passed from death to life. As they travel, Francis is remembering by free association the action of God in the spiritual journey of himself and the Brothers and Sisters. Through our participation in this prayer, we in the FISC community were led to reflect on how we were living out the values of Francis in today's world. The part of Francis was read by Br. Austin SSF and Leo, by Br. Jack OFM. The service began in FISC Common Room. In Siena, Francis thought about the start of his journey, when he helped a poor knight and God showed him a vision of a palace full of armour for him and his knights. This vision was represented in the Common Room (see left) where the students of Clare House FISC led us to question how we are helping Christ in the poor today.
Monte Bre Community were asked to present 'Spoleto' the next stage of the journey. Francis recalled his dream at Spoleto on his way to war in which God asked him to follow the voice of his true Lord, not of an earthly warlord. Francis remembered his true Lord had spoken to him from the Crucifix in San Damiano, telling him to 'rebuild my house'.
Starting with images and sounds of glorified violence, individuals were asked to remove the newspaper images, piece by piece (right). Underneath was revealed the San Damiano Crucifix and the Lord's message, 'Rebuild My House'.
Francis understood that this meant to build up the Church of Christ by ministering to God's poor ones and John's Gospel narrative of the washing of the disciples' feet was begun. The Monte Bre Sisters moved around all the people giving a blessing on the forehead with blessed oil. The reading concluded with our reminder to follow Christ's example of service, 'If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.' After this, we all processed to Francis' final resting place, the Portiuncula (FISC chapel), singing, 'Lord, make me a means of your peace'.
FISC Chapel prepared for Transitus
Francis now recalled the Gospel text which struck him at the Portiuncula, in which Jesus taught the disciples to, 'take nothing for the journey' and to say, 'peace to this house', where they rested. This connected with Francis' memory of the greeting the Lord revealed to him, 'may the Lord give you peace'. All then shared bread and a sign of peace together. A reading of Francis' fifteenth Admonition reminded us that the peacemakers are those, 'who preserve peace of mind and body for love of our Lord Jesus Christ, despite what they suffer in this world.' We then prayed the Psalm 141 with Francis and heard the narration of his final moments in this world. The lights dimmed until only candle light remained and sombre music faded to silence. We were left to pray over Francis' parting words, '"I have done what is mine; may Christ teach you what is yours".' We will remember this year's Transitus as an exceptionally moving prayer experience.
William from Glasgow has lived in a mobile home at the rear of Monte Bre for around 30 years. He is the longest-standing resident at Monte Bre. Willie helps the Sisters, who look after him, with grounds security, gardening and general maintenance.
On 10th September was a celebration day at the historic Franciscan site of Greyfriars and at Canterbury Cathedral to mark the 8th centenary of the Franciscan way of life, dating from papal approval of the friars' Rule in 1209. The day began with Mass in a marquee in Greyfriars meadow, attended by Franciscans from many branches of the movement and their friends, hosted by the Anglican Franciscan friars. The main celebrant was Br. Philippe Yates OFM, Principal of the Franciscan Study Centre. He preached on the humility of a little child as the attitude necessary to enter the Kingdom of God. The choir of St. Thomas' Church led us expertly in singing. After Mass was a shared lunch, where we mixed with the gathered brothers and sisters and met with our Sisters and friends who had travelled from Littlehampton. above left:Shared lunch at Greyfriars (including tomatoes).
Srs. Rose (left) and Magdelene (right) getting to know Innocentia (centre) newly arrived in pre-postulancy and now based in Littlehampton.
After lunch, Br. Philippe (right) gave a talk on the history of the Franciscans in England, including every branch of the Franciscan family.
There followed a procession of all with singing from Greyfriars to Canterbury Cathedral behind a Franciscan banner.
out of Greyfriars Meadow...
through Stour Street onto the High St.
In the Cathedral Crypt, we were treated to an hour's presentation by a group of musicians of the music of the medieval troubadors, which had influenced St. Francis. Then, there were prayers in the Cathedral at the tomb of John Pecham, a Franciscan Archbishop of Canterbury. The celebration concluded with Evensong in the Cathedral Choir. The angelic boy choristers had prepared John Rutter's setting of 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' especially for this Franciscan occasion. Our visitors from Littlehampton came back to Monte Bre for a buffet supper before making the return journey in the minibus. Our Sister Regina stayed with us, as she will be taking her holiday here. Praise God for a most successful and enjoyable celebration of our Franciscan life!
Liturgies, lectures, seminars, workshops and sheer SOUND: the Society of St. Gregory's Summer School, once described as “a retreat at a hundred miles an hour”, was held this year in rural Norfolk, at Ditchingham, amid narrow lanes and rolling cornfields. As August days blazed and then gave way to nights bright with a harvest moon, we explored the theme of “joyful hope” in Christian living and dying.
Bishop Michael Evans delivers keynote speech
Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia interested me in his keynote speech by insisting that there is nothing sacrosanct about Latin as a liturgical language. Moreover, if we want to get closer to understanding the Scriptures, he said, let us look back to Hebrew and New Testament Greek. With regard to the controversy over translating the beatitudes, for example, Bishop Michael said that 'happy' comes closer to the Koine 'μακαριοι' [makarioi]and does more to convey an idea of the joyfulness which is the essence of Christian hope than does the translation 'blessed'.
On the afternoon of the Feast of the Transfiguration I went to the Composers' Forum. Christopher Walker, Paul Wellicome and Edwin Fawcett, three very brilliant composers, gave constructive and practical advice on six compositions submitted by SSGparticipants. Among other things, the panel encouraged composers to be specific in communicating the dynamics of each piece – to give very precise directions about how you want it to sound: is it loud or soft; are there swells; is it for solo or group; is the speed marking accurate and have you marked all this information for the accompaniment as well as the melody? Many practical tips were shared and each piece was sung through, so we had a marvellous opportunity to listen to some very beautiful new work.
Sr. Rose reads at Morning Prayer
A workshop on the Ministry of reading offered by permanent deacon Peter Tibke focussed on issues surrounding the role of reader. People tend to think that anyone can read, thus the need for training and practice is not widely recognized. We looked at three key aspects involved in proclaiming the Word of God suitably: conviction, preparation and delivery. Together we discussed such varied points as the need for eye contact with the congregation, the need to project the voice in larger assemblies and the need to understand the different genres of Scripture in order to read with understanding. Even a point as simple as that of arriving in good time is crucial. Since we receive Our Lord no less in the Liturgy of the Word than in the Blessed Sacrament, due seriousness and honour should be given to the task of reading at Mass.
The Summer School was far more than just a time of study. As a social event it was also hugely enjoyable, particularly the Big Sings and the Final Concert. I came away stimulated and refreshed, with my hope in the vitality of the Church rekindled.
By Sr. Rose of Lima
The theme of the summer School was: “As we wait in joyful hope”
For the closing liturgy I was asked by Fr Tim Menzies, co-ordinator of the week, - to offer a short reflection on what had most touched/moved me during the week’s experience.
The Bishop of East Anglia, Michael Evans, gave a keynote lecture on Wednesday and he said to us that life is a journey – a pilgrimage; and to live in joyful hope. He challenged us to make a difference IN THE HERE AND NOW in ministry and in service. He also invited us to experience a foretaste of heaven and to enable others to do so; - to be ministers of hope: joyful hope.
Ann Blackett gives lecture
I attended the workshop on
“God’s holy people and the places we make – liturgical spaces” led by Ann Blackett.
I found these sessions energising and they led me to reflect that each and every one of us is sacred space.
In the final keynote lecture, Ann Blackett focused on living in joyful hope in relation to Pastoral Care of the Sick. Her sharing of her journeying with her Dad through chemotherapy, dying and death was a visible example for me of living in joyful hope.
She also highlighted that what we hope and pray for can change – especially with the illness and death of a loved one.
Above all, I returned home from the week with this:
Our hope is when we are Christ to one another.