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Stepping Out of Our Caves

I stepped out of my cave last Thursday night at 9 o'clock and rang a bell for one minute.  It was my tiny contribution to the neighbourhood around CHUV letting all our health workers know that we appreciate what they are doing.  I also thought about those in CHUV who are sick.  I hoped this minute's holy din might touch their hearts too, give them strength to get better and come back to life and health again. The cave I am referring to wasn't my apartment.  It was my fear, my discomfort at being visible, or at least audible.  It's outside my comfort zone.  I decided to go further one night and, after the minute's tribute to those who are caring for the sick and dying, I played Eva Cassidy's version of 'Imagine' on my balcony, full blast. I really had to push myself to do that.  A breeze arrived and carried the melody and the words along the street through the darkness.  Who knows where it landed, who it might have touched? I am stepping out of another cave right now.  Putting things to print is very different from the spoken word.  It's more 'visible' than a sermon.  I'm uncomfortable with it.  The preacher should put his words into practice, the writer should take ownership of his.  And so ..... My sister told my brother (in Australia) about Avenue de Bethusy's 'Imagine' event.  He responded by stating that 'Imagine' was a very poor anthem for people to live by.  No Heaven?  No Religion too?  Disgraceful.  He stated that he had been researching everything to do with the apparitions of Mary and that she had warned humanity to turn from sin, this is all God's retribution, etc.  I checked the Magnificat, I can't find it in there.  Her words are solace for the poor and suffering.  Any possible retribution is reserved for the mighty, not the sinner. My brother is a health worker.  In his email he went on to describe his own personal fear (terror, even) and how panicked and fearful people are in the hospital there.  It didn't sound to me as if Mary was providing solace or comfort to him, more adding to his fear, heightening it.  My brother is not one of the 'mighty'.  He is just a good and decent man who tries to behave honourably at all times.  So I ask, why is my brother so filled with fear?  Why isn't he the light of the world, going in to the hospital each day to bring calm to the panic, peace to those who sorely need it?  He's a Catholic, after all, says the rosary every day.  Why so fearful? Isn't that exactly what John Lennon wished to see the end of?  Religion which is rooted in fear, which thrives on it?  Which keeps humanity living in dark caves where prejudice, exclusion and resentment fester?  Religion which insists that it has a monopoly on truth and is the only way to God.  I wonder what the woman in the scriptures who was dragged into the market place to be stoned to death by the Pharisees, I wonder what her views on religion were?  My guess is she would have agreed with Lennon. And no Heaven?  My brother insisted that we must believe in a heaven to go to after we die how else would there be any hope for all those who are suffering?  It kind of flies in the face of last week's psalm: 'Even although I walk through the valley of darkness, I will not fear, for you are there with your rod and your staff, with these you give me comfort.' One mystic goes so far as to say that people's focus on a hereafter damages their engagement in the here and now.  Why are people searching for eternal life when we are already in it?  God is now, right now.  And forever. Jesus has to rise within you: I spoke earlier in the year about another song John Lennon wrote.  In that song he stated, "There is nowhere you can go .... there is nothing you can do, but you can learn to be YOU, in time.  It's easy, all you need is love."  My hope is that, that is exactly what is happening to all of us now.  Nowhere to go, nothing to do.  So let's learn who we are. Finally, in today's Gospel, a character appears almost unnoticed.  Thomas.  St Thomas was the only apostle who went outwith the Roman Empire to preach the Good News.  Around 25 years after Jesus' death and resurrection he turned up in Kerala, India.  To this day there is a Christian community there, dedicated to St Thomas.  (Our own George on the parish council comes from there.)  Artefacts from Thomas' life there have been taken from Kerala and now are housed in the Church of St Thomas the Apostle in Arruzo, Italy. His Gospel was not included in the Church's Canon.  Hippolytus justified that decision by stating that it couldn't be included because there are four corners of the earth, therefore there can only be four gospels.  Hmmm!  The gospel is very like St John's, deeply spiritual.  There is no narrative, simply a collection of what Thomas says Jesus said.  50% of the gospel is contained in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The other 50% is found only in Thomas.  It is all about Jesus' Kingdom, where it is to be found and how it can be accessed.  It can be listened to here: A few months ago, I painted the back room in the church at Bethusy.  I placed symbols of the great faiths of the world around the walls.  I did so because I learned so much about Christ this last two years through them - but what I learned most from these other beautiful faiths, was how little I knew. I learned from a North American chief who stated that only when the last bird had fallen from the sky and the last fish taken from the ocean, only then will we realise that we can't eat dollars.  And from Sadhguru who stated that we will evolve no further until we choose responsibility over religion.  Or again when he said that if you are not at peace within yourself, then when you are on your own, you are in very bad company.  And from Ghandi who said that there were many things for which he would be prepared to die.  But there is nothing for which he would be prepared to kill.  I listened to Faisal Muqdam from the world of Islam describing so beautifully how he came to realise why Christians cry out, "Glory, glory Halleluiah!"  I read about the Buddha saying that when a baby sees a bird in a tree for the first time, it can hardly contain itself. Then we teach the baby to say "Birdy ... birdy" and Buddha says it's likely that, from that moment on, that baby will never actually see a bird again, only the label we gave it. I saw the bird again, not the label, then I wanted to cry out "Glory Halleluiah!" I listened in awe to Eckart Tolle and found the power of now.  To Mooji, to Wayne Dyer, Peter Russell, Rupert Spira.  All of them saying the same thing - Jesus' Kingdom is within us. That little room seems quite significant now as the whole world seeks wisdom and courage TOGETHER.  So let us all step out of the caves of our own prejudices and fears.  The last time I looked, our community is called Our Lady of FAITH, not religion.  Step out of darkness and BE the light of the world as Jesus said YOU are.  Let your light be seen. Let your bell be heard. Steve Online Masses: and Watch Here This week's readings: Meditation with Melchior - From Resistance to Acceptance of Every Situation.  This Sunday, 29 March, 6pm: Reflections, News and Prayers to Lift Your Spirit from Redemptorist Publications: scroll to the end of this message. The Pope's Global Prayer - English link: From a parishioner - a series of online mindfulness training sessions to help to cope with stress, social isolation and changes in work behaviour: Bank details for the Missionaires de la Charité (Mother Teresa Sisters, Lausanne,) for those who would like to make online donations:  PC Account: 17 40 35 79 5.  IBAN/KONTO number: 38 09 00 00 00 174 035 795.  They ask for our prayers also.  They are currently short of flour and sugar, and could do with any of the following items: rice, pre-made ravioli, canned beans, canned vegetables, jam, tea, coffee, milk, eggs, pasta, vegetable oil, soap.  Their address for food deliveries: Ch de la Forêt 2, 1018 Bellevaux. Farmy online deliveries has made a special delivery queue for those who are vulnerable: Don't forget that clocks go forward by one hour this Sunday at 1am. Many thanks to GEORGE JOSEPH, who has created our new website -  All our recent emails can be found there in the 'blog' page, top right.

Reflections, news and prayers to lift your spirit

Pope Francis called for all Christians to respond to the coronavirus pandemic “with the universality of prayer, of compassion, of tenderness”, adding, “Let us remain united. Let us make our closeness felt toward those persons who are the most lonely and tried”. Speaking after the traditional recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father called on all Christians to join together in prayer. “In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven.”Urbi et Orbi Blessing Friday 27 March 5pmPope Francis invites all the Christian faithful to participate in a special time of prayer led by him at Saint Peter Square on Friday, 27 March 2020. The ceremony will include readings from the Scriptures and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  It will conclude with the Pope imparting the Urbi et Orbiblessing which is usually held only twice per year, at Christmas and Easter, from the balcony over the entrance of Saint Peter Basilica.  The prayer and blessing will be live-streamed on the Vatican News website( at 5:00 pm.Spiritual Exercise 📷We encourage you to sit in stillness for ten to fifteen minutes and open your heart to receive God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual exercise will deepen your awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your heart and give you confidence that the Spirit will be with you in everything you do to make Christ known.Centre yourself; sit upright, two feet firmly on the floor; breathe rhythmically with deep breaths, in and out, from the abdomen; clear your mind of all preoccupations.Bring yourself to bodily stillness.Now welcome in your heart this gift that Jesus has for you: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).Quietly repeat those words of Jesus and hand over to him all worries or trouble.You may find it helpful if you name to God a specific area where you need healing or forgiveness.Now be still for some time in the presence of God as you welcome the Holy Spirit into your heart.As you are about to finish your time of prayer, focus again on your breathing while you relax in God’s presence.Bring yourself gently back to your daily concerns.May you receive that peace of Christ each day. Exercise excerpt taken from Talking about Jesus £4.95Good News From Around The World Drive-thru confession📷Prior to many US states going into lockdown a priest in Maryland was offering drive-thru confessions during the coronavirus pandemic.Father Scott Holmer administered the confession every day in the parking lot of St. Edward Church in Bowie. He sat on a chair while cars pulled up to him. Fr Scott kept a distance of 6-feet between himself and those wishing to confess.Balcony performance📷“I have performed at the Liceu [Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona] 273 times and now it seems I have become famous for singing at my window.” 56-year-old Spanish soprano, Begoña Alberdi, self-isolating with her husband in their Barcelona apartment, is only one of an amazing variety of some of the world’s most famous musicians and singers who have tried to cheer up their neighbours with free performances, often from the balcony of their home. Every cloud has a silver liningIn the battle against global warming, scientists say that the number of people staying in their homes has caused levels of air pollutants and warming gases to fall. In fact, it's down almost 50 percent on this point in time last year.

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