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 A Journey of Faith

Reflections towards the celebration of 400 years of the birth of 

the Blessed Nicolas Barrè

on October 21st 2021

Finding our Purpose 

August 4th 2021

It’s been said that the meaning of life is to give life meaning; to search for, find, and be motivated by a sense of purpose or a mission. It is not just about grand, philanthropic entrepreneurship, running an orphanage, or saving lives, it can be whatever internal drive fuels you with a vision that gets you out of bed each morning. 

 

Regardless of the path we choose, we may  feel “empty” despite having loads of money, a big house, or the latest iPhone.  These things may impress others or provide a false sense of security, but they don’t give our life meaning. Altruism is the path to true fulfilment. It gives us purpose, while consumerism just gives us more stuff. By making mindful purchase decisions, we can make a meaningful impact, not just in the world outside of us, but also within and so avoid feeling empty inside. 

 

The key is to practice discernment as a way of life. Whenever I’m tempted to buy something, I first ask myself why I want to buy it. I already know material things only momentarily boost my mood, they are not an investment in my overall well-being (especially if the true cost causes harm). As Shantideva said, “Our suffering stems from wishing our self to be happy, while all the happiness in the world arises from wishing others to be happy.” 

 

‘It is in giving that we receive’ Saint Francis of Assisi. 

 

And we must not worry, which betrays a lack of trust in God to be there and care for us in the future, or boasting, which shows a lack of belief that God will have his own ideas and will sovereignly direct us in the future. We must place all our trust in God and the direction of our true destiny will unfold before us

 

Nicolas Barré tells us:  ‘Focusing on getting worldly recognition is the greatest obstacle to finding inner peace.  Many people long for peace but behave in a manner entirely contrary to the Spirit of God.  They want things to happen for them in the way they want.  We must not seek for peace in externals or in worldly terms even if this may seem to lead to peace.  It must find its home in our inner life and be with us in times of suffering and opposition. This will come about, without fail, if we are living with conviction that God is our all - for God alone we live.  This is our only way of attaining true peace’.  (R.R.3)

 

Prayer:  May God give us the grace to live meaningful lives by giving life meaning.

 

Richard A G Watson 

Senior Coach and Equine Trainer at the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre

Humility: 

July 28th 2021

Some years ago Sr Georgina IJS gave a number of us a retreat on the Pope’s Gaudate et Exsultate (Rejoice and be Glad) where he dwelt on the call to holiness in today’s world. During the section of the retreat based on the Beatitudes Georgina kept breaking up the word and stressing “Be” -attitudes! That stayed with me and now I think -be gentle, be meek and of course be humble. 

Reflection 1: Gaudete et Exsultate No 118. Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. If you are unable to suffer and offer up a few humiliations you are not humble and you are not on the path to holiness. The holiness that God bestows on his Church comes through the humiliation of his Son. 

He is the way. Humiliation makes you resemble Jesus: it is an unavoidable aspect of the imitation of Christ who suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21). In turn He reveals the humility of the Father, who condescends to journey with His people, enduring their infidelities and complaints (Books of Exodus and Wisdom). For this reason, the Apostles, after suffering humiliation, rejoiced that they “were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for Jesus’ name”. 

At the first mention of “suffering a few humiliations” I had a similar reaction to the one I had when preparing the Peace reflection and Nicolas Barre said that to reach peace, which he compared to a rose, I had to suffer from the thorns! I suppose our first reaction is to avoid suffering but, with inspiration from others and God’s help we get the strength.

Have a look at my “deeply humiliated” plant after a severe but necessary pruning! Look at it 2 weeks later!



Reflection 2: Letter 14

Let us open our eyes to the similarity between this spiritual experience (humility) and the growth we notice in plants and trees. Nature begins, continues and terminates its growth in the roots planted deep in the earth. 

Prayer: Lord keep us rooted in You and give us the spirit of humility. Amen

Jo Cremin IJS

Humility: The  Love of God

July 21st 2021

In letter 27 Nicolas Barré tells us that ‘rest and relaxation will lead to a deep humility’. On further exploration of the Letter we discover that Nicolas is writing to a missionary he very much admired. Through their correspondence, Nicolas had become aware that sometimes this dedicated missionary was losing his sense of God. It seems that he was essentially overworking leading to times of ‘dissipation, anger and indignation’. Nicolas was advising him to take ‘time out’ to ‘empty your mind of all preoccupations’ so as ‘to gently turn towards Him who is your beginning, your central, main and total goal’. Nicolas advises that ‘rest and relaxation will lead to a deep humility …an awareness of our own nothingness and God’s greatness.’ This is the attitude of Mary when she utters her YES at the Annunciation (BI 21) and reminds us of the promise that ‘nothing is impossible with God’ Lk 1:37. Humility is possible. The achievement is God working in and through each one of us to achieve God’s desired outcome.

Reflection 1:

Later in the letter Nicolas writes:

‘One of the many effects of humility is the great peace it imparts to our whole being, including our emotions. In this way it restores us to our true selves and we enter into the true wisdom which is the most active, and at the same time, the most tranquil thing in the world. (Letter 27)

Reflection 2:

Lord, you hold me in your presence,

You watch over everything,

All my concerns,

All that happens to me.

Nothing escapes your adorable guidance of my life – this is enough for me.

O Jesus! O Love! (Prayer of Abandonment Letter 12)

Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Blessing:

May you experience many days of rest and relaxation ‘each day… a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder’. John O’Donohue

Kitty Ellard IJS

Humility

July 14th 2021

When considering sections of the Rule of Life that Blessed Nicolas wrote for the Sisters, I was struck by the repeated insistence he gives to Abandonment to Divine Providence, to total trust in God's care, both in regard to the work the Sisters undertake, and to their lives as individuals. In this he pre-dates the teachings of the Jesuit and fellow Frenchman, Pierre François de Caussade, (1675-1751), whose best-known work bears just that title, and which became a classic of spiritual direction for Religious and lay people for the next two hundred years.

I'm not sure if humility has ever been fashionable; it certainly doesn't appear to be today. Self-assertiveness and the demand for the instant gratification of every passing whim, is the gospel preached to us by the media and popular retail therapy of our time.

And so, as always, the disciple looks to the master for guidance. And in that context, I was very struck by the last verse of the Gospel reading on a recent Sunday. Having been contemptuously dismissed by the people of Nazareth, Mark tells us that

“he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few

sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mk.6, 5-6).

That verse probably shocks us more than it shocked the generation for whom Mark was writing. Matthew's version changes could not to would not and make no reference to Jesus' amazement.

What the Lord encountered in Nazareth had not been honest doubt, but mocking dismissal. He can work with honest doubt. Jairus, the synagogue official in the previous Sunday's reading, had doubts. But he was prepared to risk being made a public laughing stock when he begged Jesus to heal his daughter. The woman with the haemorrhage, (same reading), had doubts. Years of good money thrown after bad on useless physicians, and the knowledge of what the crowd might do to her if she was seen to accost him, would raise doubts in the mind of anyone with the I.Q. of a glow-worm. But she risked it, and the Lord led her from superstition, (“if I just touch the hem of his cloak”), to faith, and to healing. “Daughter your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” Mk.5,34.

The shock of this rejection, we must assume, taught Jesus something. What could it have been? Might I suggest the need for even greater reliance on his Father's providential care while doing His will, in the face of the opposition and rejection he would meet. This is what abandonment to divine providence means in practice. And if it meant that in Jesus' life, it must surely mean the same in ours.

And there lies real humility. Saints, and I've met a few, so perhaps may be allowed to know what I'm talking about, work as if everything depended on them, but really do know that everything depends on Him. And from that comes their peace of mind and steadfastness. The saints I knew were not people who never had a doubt. They were people who handed over their lives, doubts included, to the Lord, and once handed over, never asked for it back. They had the humility to know that this too, was God's gift, to be used for his glory, and not for their gratification.

Blessed Nicolas Barré, pray for us.

Gerard Boylan

Humility

July 7th 2021

Humility and love are inseparable, to truly love is to be truly humble and to be truly humble is to truly love. The truly humble love unconditionally, whereas sometimes we find it hard to be truly humble and love unconditionally. Pride can create in us a fear of failure which can prevent us from reaching out and loving others as much as we should. We have to let go of our pride to enable us to reach out to others, to give and receive that love. Humility however has love and faith without fear. 'In love there is no room for fear, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear implies punishment and no one who is afraid has come to perfection in love.' 1 John 4 : 18.

God loves each and every one of us unconditionally and He gave his only Son to die for us, to forgive us our sins. So we need to humble ourselves before God to receive that love and when we do, we receive not only forgiveness but such love that we could never imagine, he accepts us for who we are. God needs us to share this love by accepting others as they are and by not judging or trying to change them to become what we expect them to be or to conform to society's 'norms'. God asks us to love one another as He loves us.

'This is what Yahweh asks of you, to act justly, love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.' Micah 6 :8.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YE0TDE7kVsA - Marilla Ness - Walk Humbly with your God.

'Lowliness is the exercise of true humility which helps us to be with the least of all God's people, leading us into our own nothingness enabling us to give glory to God and enter into a state of true adoration. The exercise of humility also helps to empty us of all pride and anger, all bitterness and indignation, all ambition and emotional disorders. Only the humble possesses all these blessings, not to mention the other great graces they experience.' Letter 22, Nicolas Barré.

Living our lives with real humility can be really challenging.

Father, please help me to think before acting, to listen before judging and guide me to walk in love and humility loving others as you love me. Amen.

Sue Allen

Grace. Prayer from the heart

June 30th 2021

What is Grace? The answer that most of us would come up with is the prayer we all learnt as a child to say before and after a meal. But Grace is far more than that. The English translation of the Greek word for grace, ‘Charis’ means bringing joy, happiness and good fortune.

Grace is partaking in the life of all creation, a divine gift bestowed on us by God. Grace can be an in-depth prayer of the Church or Grace can be the simplicity of a single word of prayer. It is a moment when we can pause and allow prayer to float outwards from our inner being to be shared with all creation.The important thing is to remember that Grace can be prayed at any time. It can be a prayer of thanks for a delicious meal, it can be a prayer for protection, it can be a prayer of gratitude for life.

Grace can be your own personal simple prayer to begin or end the day. It is a prayer that comes from your heart. It is a prayer that feeds your faith, keeping you close to creation and to God.

Through Grace we become more familiar with God which then leads to bringing joy and goodness to our world.

In the words of Nicolas Barré, ‘A relationship with God in prayer comes about through a living faith which enables us to contemplate... Our active and contemplative life... should become one’.

‘It goes without saying that whatever you are doing you should not let even one day go by without spending some time in prayer. If you neglect it, things go wrong and however poor it may be, it still has the power to raise us up, sustain us and, in a mysterious way, gain for us great blessings which we would otherwise be without. Be very careful then, to be especially faithful to the exercise of prayer and meditation, setting aside several periods for it each day.’ (Letter 18)


Abba, Father, my morning grace today

is to ask for your blessings on all that I

do and all that I say.

May my actions and my words harm no

one as I go along my way.

Today is a divine gift for me to cherish,

value, and use for your purpose.

When I look back may I see a day welled, where I have b lived, lived where I have been an

instrument in helping your creation.  

Mary Joy Langdon IJS

Jubilee reflection

June 23rd 2021

I have been reflecting recently on the differences between the first lockdown in March 2020 and this latest period of restriction, and I find changed attitudes. In the first lockdown we remember the glorious weather, the novelty of working from home, of avoiding the dreaded commute and the many new opportunities to go slowly, to be still. This period is certainly different; resentment and dissatisfaction seem to be flourishing, complaint and division rife, “Why do I have to wear a mask? I don’t believe in the merits of a vaccine or the rules of lockdown, etc.” Things are certainly more vexing than a year or so ago. The slowness, the stillness, the ability to enjoy the small things that we professed to relish first time around, the promises we made to ourselves, the new way of living that we resolved never to abandon, are slipping away through our fingers, leaving only a wistful trail which we notice when we make time to glance after it, over our shoulders, as we hurry to get back to ‘normal’.

Whilst we look for what is being described as the ‘new normal’ perhaps a moment to consider some words of Nicolas Barré: “ We must long and thirst for God who is love. We must dispose ourselves and devote all our attention and zeal to the continuous effort of seeking and finding God in simplicity.” (R.R.7)

Wouldn’t it be good to hold onto the pleasure of small things, of present moments rather than grand future plans; to look beyond our wants and desires? “Choose Lord what you want of me. Order all things, plan and arrange all things in the way that pleases you, and I will try to make my desires and actions yours, to follow you in everything and everywhere, without reserve or limit”. (Letter 12)

Last Sunday we heard the account of the storm at sea from Mark 4:35 – 41. This Gospel reading tells us not to leave Our Lord in the corner, in the boat, alone. But let’s not only seek Him out or wake Him up when we are desperate and in great need. Rather let us hope and pray for the sort of faith that never stops asking Him and calling to Him and seeking His love, that never stops wanting Him to gaze upon us.

Prayer: Examine me O God and change my mind; test me and clean my thoughts. Help me to listen to the one who calls me “beloved”; create me anew and guide me. Start the revolution in my life, and together we can rise up, together we can transform our world. Amen.

Suzanne O’Malley

On Being  Accompanied 

June 16th 2021

Jubilee Reflection for Blessed Nicolas Barré

Theme: On Being Accompanied June 16th 2021

Introduction: In the old Celtic tradition a person with whom you could share your innermost self, your thoughts and your struggles, was known as an “anam cara”, a soul friend. It is a wonderful blessing to find such a person on our journey through life.

Reflection 1. Once or twice I have been helped in this way by someone I met briefly, just when I needed someone to talk to. The encounters had a profound impact on the rest of my life. Recalling these meetings reminds me of the lovely story about Philip and the Ethiopian (Acts 8: 26-40) One day, at noon, the Lord instructed Philip to take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza and to accept a ride in a passing chariot. When the traveller invited Philip to accompany him on the way, Philip was able to spend a few hours sitting beside him, answering his questions, helping him in his search. At the end of their time together, the Ethiopian was baptised. “The Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again. He went on his way rejoicing.”

Have you had such experiences? How did the encounters affect your life?

Reflection 2. At other times, I have been blessed to find people who accompanied me for longer periods, sometimes for many years. They all possessed, in different ways, the kind of sensitive listening and respect encouraged by Nicolas Barré in his advice to Spiritual Directors.(MD)

“The director should show consideration and charity in adjusting times to suit the person as far as can be reasonably expected” (38)

“All spiritual progress is rooted in the unique way God draws each person” “Let them take care not to divert their directees from their own particular path” (23, 39)

“The one who is troubled must be listened to even when one does not know how to relieve their sufferings. By means of a kindly conversation the most bitter part of the trouble can be removed from their heart” (26)

Have you been graced with such a “soul friend”? What do you remember about their way of journeying with you?

Prayer: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2) Take time to remember the people who walk, or walked, with you at various times on your journey through life and pray for them.

Blessing: “May you be given a light so that you may tread safely into the unknown.”

Georgina IJS

Prayer and Accompaniment

June 9th 2021

IAs I stood on the bridge drinking in the beauty of the countryside, my eyes caught sight of a heron poised gracefully in the shallow water of a nearby river. Seemingly unperturbed by the chaos created by a gust of wind, his solitary figure was so still that I thought it was a tree stump. He was perfectly in tune with the slow moving water, the ripples that lapped the surface and the quiet movements deeper down. He was a picture of patience, balance and vigilance. When the moment of opportunity arrived, he suddenly dipped his beak in the water. Then, gracefully extending his long legs, he glided towards the horizon with slow and ponderous wing beats to fulfil his mission to his family.

1st Reflection: Prayer is about learning how to SEE so as to be aware of the possibility of every given moment. It is about fostering a spirituality that can survive the trauma of a pandemic and connect anew with the sacredness of life. Like the heron, we need a contemplative stance, poised and rooted. The balancing point is the real world where no one is forgotten and where justice and peace are the norm.

2nd Reflection: “The spiritual life is achieved by listening to ALL of life and learning to respond to each of its dimensions wholly.” (Joan Chittister)

Prayer: Help us Lord, “To win people over by gentleness and sincerity, to enter into their hearts, listen with patience, show compassion when they are troubled and support them in their difficulties.” (M.D.24)

Blessing: May the Lord give us a “Profound attitude of reverence”. (L13)

Catherine O Sullivan IJ

Spiritual Accompaniment

June 2nd 2021

Introduction: Bl. Nicolas Barré gave the first sisters instructions regarding spiritual accompaniment. Not everybody has experienced this kind of relationship, but we will still see that there is some wisdom for all of us in these texts.

First, N. Barré highlights the need for attentive listening. Not only in spiritual accompaniment, but also in other aspects of life, we may sometimes feel as some kind of “guru”, somebody who owns the truth and can benevolently bow down to the other. However, with this attitude, we may hinder both the growth of the other person and our own. On the contrary, when we listen attentively, we are not only serving the other, but also ourselves, as we can be enriched by God´s actions in people we meet.

Secondly, N. Barré compares God to a centre of a great circle and warns us against thinking that everybody else has to come to a centre in the same way as us. Sometimes it can be a challenge, especially while meeting somebody whose way is very different from ours. Then we may tend to react, because we try to defend our way. But there is no need for that. If we are at peace with the idea that we can have and walk our unique way to God, we do not have to feel threatened by the otherness of other people and their ways. Instead, they can become an inspiration to us.

Reflection 1: “It is more important to listen than to speak so as to gain insight from the knowledge God conveys through the persons being directed, all the while entering more deeply into one’s own nothingness.” (M.D. 22)

Reflection 2: “Spiritual Directors must look upon God as the centre of a great circle to whom an infinite number of lines converge, all starting from different points. Let them take care not to divert the directees from their own particular path; otherwise they would hinder people in their progress or lead them astray. (M.D.23)

Prayer: Merciful God, through blessed Nicolas Barre, You call us to listen deeply to each person and to this world. Help us to do it with open hearts, so we can see Your deeds in people´s lives and can also see the signs of the times you call us to read.

Blessing: May we see, appreciate and get enriched by the way God deals with every person.

Klára Maliňáková IJS

Simplicity in Everything

May 26th 2021

You may remember Pope Francis’ appearance on the balcony just after his election and his simple greeting, ‘Buona sera’. He was wearing a white cassock and simple black shoes, rather than the red shoes and red, fur-trimmed cape of his predecessors. From that moment a breath of fresh air was felt throughout the Church and the world. This excitement and hope has continued to touch us through his words, through his humanity, his humility and simplicity and through his genuine love for those most in need. It became clear that Pope Francis was communicating a new image for the Church - a simpler, more humble Church that was closer to the poor of the world. I often think that the simplicity of Pope Francis would have touched Nicolas Barré deeply. In 17th century France he urged the first sisters, ‘not to wander far from the crib of Jesus’ and to have ‘a great simplicity in everything’ (FM 11). Since Covid struck, as well as the isolation, hardships and difficulties suffered by many, our lives seem to have become simpler: working from home less travel, fewer meetings, more inter-connection by zoom. When we finally emerge out of lockdown perhaps we will have seen the benefits of a deeper quality of presence in our relationships and a more simple life-style.

Reflection 1:

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:  yet I say to you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these…. so do not worry. (Matt. 6:28-29)

Reflection 2:

‘God’s simplest wish is the guiding light his lovers follow,

They look for no support, know no repose,

Save only when they rest in Him’ (L13).

Prayer: Jesus tells us not to be worried or anxious. Let us pray for the simplicity and trust to let go and allow God to take charge. He knows what we need and He loves us with an unconditional love. Lord, we place our trust and hope in you.

Blessing: May I live this day, compassionate of heart, clear in word, gracious in awareness,
courageous in thought, generous in love. (John O’Donohue)

Marie Pitcher IJS

Pentecost

May 19th 2021

Pentecost is the celebration of the coming of that Spirit who enables us to live in Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Nicolas Barre’s final words to his community as he was dying: “The Institute is a small body in the Church. I shall tell the Holy Spirit to always be its source of life - to always be in control and to always be its head and to lead it. The Pentecost season is a time to be possessed by the Holy Spirit, so show them how the Holy Spirit must take possession of them and how they must take possession of the Holy Spirit. (A.D. 9 & 10).

Nicolas Barre’s life was totally possessed and steeped in the presence of the Spirit. This was the driving force to put into action his great desire to make Jesus Christ known and loved.

Reflection 1:

“We are called to become instruments of the Holy Spirit who is at work in us, in the people to whom we are sent and in their history.” (B.I. 7)

Reflection 2:

“Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit”

Let us take time to contemplate the beautiful stained glass window above (to be found in St. George’s College, Weybridge) and allow the Spirit to possess us with the gifts of love, joy, peace.

Prayer:

Divine Being, in possession of my soul, Holy Spirit, hidden in my inmost being, Sacred flame, consuming from within my bones, Spirit of the spirit of my flesh, no longer need we search for you abroad, since you surround us on all sides, and are present in the very depths of our being. We imagine you as dwelling in the highest heaven. Yet you are to be found here among us in the lowliest places. (Spiritual Canticle 1)

Rosemary Barter IJ.

The Holy Spirit in our lives

May 12th 2021

Isn’t it interesting that, when all was said and done, and Fr Barre’s life was coming to a close, he had this final wish for us: “Pentecost is a time to be possessed by the holy Spirit. Show them how the Holy Spirit must take possession of them and how they must take possession of the Holy Spirit” (AD 30). In a way, of course, it sums up everything he dreamed we would ever be and do. Where the Holy Spirit is, there is unity, there is missionary zeal, there is fruitfulness, creativity, daring, joy, life, endurance, and especially pure love.

Reflection 1.

So, we can ask ourselves, how does the Holy Spirt “take possession of us”? This is a pure gift, we cannot make it happen. The Spirit breathes where He wills. We can only ask, wait and be receptive. “Wait there…. not many days from now, you will be baptised by the Holy Spirt”. (Acts 1:5) In the Old Testament there were some individuals and prophets of whom it is said that “the spirit of God took possession of him”(e.g. Judges 6:34). However, the Holy Spirit was not then recognised as a distinct Divine Person. Jesus revealed the Spirit to humanity and promised that after he ascended to the Father he would send the Holy Spirit in a totally new way into the whole world. (Jn. 7:39) Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit would not simply give us gifts, his very Self would be with us and in us and stay with us. Some theologians speak of the Coming of the Spirt as The Pentecost, in much the same way as we speak of The Incarnation. The Incarnation happened “once “ when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary. Yet, the Incarnation is an ongoing , unfinished, ever present event. In much the same way, the outpouring of the Holy Spirt at Pentecost was the beginning of the special Presence and Mission of the Holy Spirit in the world. In a totally new way, the Spirit gives Himself to each of us individually. The Spirit “comes” over and over again and gradually takes possession of our whole being.

Reflection 2:

Again, we can ask ourselves: how do we “take possession of the Holy Spirt”? In fact, we already “possess” the Holy Spirit. Our problem may be that we do not fully realise the amazing wonderful Gift we have. “If only you knew the Gift of God” (Jn. 4:10) We have received the Sacrament of Confirmation. We have been taught about the Spirit. Still this grace can remain inactive in us until we learn to call on the Holy Spirit and come to know him as our Friend, Counsellor, Guide, Healer and indwelling Guest.

The gifts of the Spirit are “energies”, “powers”, that we can call on in our daily life. They enable us to love, to console, to pray, and to make wise decisions. They empower us to touch people’s hearts, to be creative, to recognise God’s action in the world, to be open to the truth. To recognise the movements of the Spirit in our hearts and to respond generously, we need to learn to pay attention, to be sensitive to his invitations, to listen to the whisper of the “gentle breeze”. Gradually, we begin to realise that we can trust these promptings and rely on the guidance and power of the Spirit. Slowly we begin “to take possession” of the amazing Gift that is ours.

Reflection 3:

“The spirit of the Institute is closely linked to the mysteries of Christmas and Pentecost. We will prepare for and celebrate these feasts in a special way” (BI 216). What can I do this year to be ready to welcome the coming of the Spirit?

“If we allow the Holy Spirit to take possession of us, he will gradually bring about the unity of our apostolic lives in which action and contemplation permeate each other”. (BI 14) “The Holy Spirit teaches us to love as Jesus loved. Gradually set free by his love, we become truly ourselves… more ready to accept the mystery of each person in the mystery of their God-given personality” (BI 37) Am I challenged by these words?

Prayer: “Come, O Creator, Spirit blest, and in our souls take up thy rest.

Come, kindle our senses from above and make our hearts overflow with Love”

Blessing: May we be truly wise and ever rejoice in the Spirit’s consolation. Amen

Georgina Clarkson IJS

Led by the Spirit

May 5th 2021

Theme: Led by the Spirit

Wednesday 5th May 2021

“Whatever happens be always at peace and trust in God. What you experience will be in proportion to your faith, your hope and your love, and even more abundantly than that.” (Letter 61)

In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us that “Realities are greater than ideas. This principle has to do with incarnation of the word and its being put into practice: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is from God” (1 John 4:2)” “…… this principle impels us to put the word into practice, to perform works of justice and charity which make that word fruitful.” (Evangelii Gaudium 233)

“What the spirit brings is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self control. Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit.” (Gal 5 22 – 26)

As we approach Pentecost let us ask the Spirit to show forth these gifts in our life and ask Nicolas Barré to remind the Spirit ‘to always be our source of life’. (A.D. 9 & 10)

Reflection 1

“The Holy Spirit works as he wills, when he wills and where he wills; we entrust ourselves without pretending to see striking results. We know only that our commitment is necessary. Let us learn to rest in the tenderness of the arms of the Father amid our creative and generous commitment. Let us keep marching forward; let us give him everything, allowing him to make our efforts bear fruit in his good time.” (Evangelii Gaudium 279)

Reflection 2

“You are praising God when you do your day’s work. You are praising him when you eat and drink. You are praising him when you rest on your bed. You are praising him when you are asleep. So when are you not praising him?” (St Augustine Commentary on Psalm 146)

Prayer

Come O Holy Spirit. Fill us with your life and love so that we can spread your warmth to all we meet.

Blessing

“The mountains may depart, the hills be shaken but my love for you will never leave you and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken, says Yahweh who takes pity on you.” (Isaiah 54:10) May we all be open to receive this blessing every day.

Cynthia Deeson




Remaining at Peace – God Alone

April 28th 2021

As I was reflecting on the theme ‘Remaining at Peace’, a retreat, inspired by Ira Progoff, ‘The Well and the Cathedral’, came to mind. Through a process of meditations, the participants, of whom I was one, were invited to descend into the depths of the Well. Leaving behind the water, befuddled by the multiplication of activities of daily life, we merged with the life-giving waters of a Divine underground river. I remember emerging from this retreat with a deep sense of PEACE having experienced a ONENESS with all created things in the Divine. Rather than connect with a Being out there, I felt a Presence whose divine energy permeated the whole of creation. It brought all the strands of our shared life together in a single web. Thinking back on this experience, Nicholas Barré’s words have special significance for me: “Never forget your centre within. Find your peace always in God”. (N.B.S.C. 44)

1st Reflection: “God is our goal, the centre of all motivations. We should devote our energies only to whatever will lead us in this direction.” (N.B. Letter 62)

2nd Reflection: “God is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves.” (St. Augustine). “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts: 17:28)

Prayer: “We are all one in Christ”(Gal 3:28), Anointed and Sent to bring Good News. (Isaiah 61: 1 - 2). Let us spend a quiet moment inhaling and exhaling Divine energy as we send positive vibes across the world.

Blessing: May you always remember you never walk alone.

Go gcuimhneoidh tú i gcónaí nach siúlann tú i d’aonar.

Catherine O’ Sullivan IJS



                                                    Wednesday 21st April 2021

Help us O Lord. We, your children call on you….
The seed sown in our heart will bear great fruit. We wait in silence allowing the human rhythm, marked by wakefulness and sleep, to flow naturally ... alive ... attentive ...
The seed is a hidden presence; today Lord you are making us rediscover the joy of slowness; you have freed us from haste, from the frenzy of things, you are making us understand that the value of having stopped is worth much more than running after paths without goals and that bringing together the heavy burden of the Cross, as you did, we can become new life in support of the smallest and weakest ones.

Help us O Lord

Reflection 1

Jesus said: the Kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. (Mark 4,26-28)


Reflection 2

May the peace of Jesus be in the depths of your heart to host God alone ... Know that the peace of God that I wish you, in order to be perfect and sure, has to resemble roses that are always accompanied by thorns. (Nicola Barre letter 41)


Prayer: O Lord, let my faith not be conformist and in search of outward signs. Grant me the courage to be a witness to your Word, to persevere in the accomplishment of good and to be docile to your will.

Rosanna Sergi

Theme: Remaining at peace; prophets of hope.

 (April 14th 2021)

As Christians we are called to be prophets of hope in a world which is often crippled by despair, something particularly evident during this pandemic. By treating all of God’s wonderful creation, including humanity, with tenderness and mercy, we keep the spirit of hope alive. This hope is the mark of those who follow Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Nicolas Barré said many wonderful things about remaining in God’s peace. It is very clear that he is not meaning something all warm and cosy! Nicolas describes the opposition, contractions and anxieties which we may have to endure before obtaining that peace. (Letter 2) We know from his own life how he suffered to the point of questioning the very existence of God. I find it very reassuring that he could also say that it is in the valley of greatest misfortune and tears that God can bring us to heights which can reach the infinity of God’s greatness. “Experience shows that one can see the stars shining more brightly from the bottom of a well than in full daylight from the ground above. (R.R. 8)

Reflection 1: ‘Whether God raises them up or sets them down,

Carries them here or there

In a thousand different states,

Of power and weakness,

They accept it all out of love.

Knowing always where to find

Their peace, their rock, their good.

Once God alone is in command,

His work in them

Will always know fruition.’ (Spiritual Canticle 38)

Reflection 2: If on this night you are experiencing an hour of darkness, a day that has not yet dawned, a light dimmed or a dream shattered, open your heart with amazement to the message of Easter: “Do not be afraid, He is risen!” (Pope Francis).

Blessing: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in your faith, so that in the power of the Holy Spirit you may be rich in hope’ (Rom 15:13)

Margaret Walsh IJS  




Wednesday 31st March 2021

Evangelisation

Introduction: Someone once asked: If all the Bible was lost and only one corner of a page was left what would you like that to be? The response that day was: ‘He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him tenderly.’ Lk 15:20. Such a wonderfully revealing image of God. Nicolas Barré surely reflects this when he advises us to ‘reach out to others with gentleness’ PM 20. Perhaps too, Nicolas is remembering St Paul writing that: ‘Love is always patient and kind; 1 Cor 13:4 along with the fruits of the Spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ Gals 5:22. I have sometimes challenged myself to try and be gentle for a day. Be gentle in how I thought about my myself as well as others. How I opened and closed the door. How I trod upon mother earth. In how I spoke and what I said – even how I chewed my food! The effort may not last the day but it does have a good effect and is something I can still do now in a time of pandemic and especially when patience finds much temptation! As we accompany Jesus in Holy Week and as the crowd cries ‘Crucify Him’ may we practice reaching out to all with gentleness.

Reflection 1:

Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.

Evangelii Gaudium 39

Reflection 2:

Reach out to others with gentleness and humility and with warmth and enthusiasm inspired by love

Nicolas Barré PM 20

Prayer: Spirit of God, may we become more like Jesus who reaches out to us and says ‘Learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart.’Mt11:20. Resp: The Lord is my light and my help.

Blessing: Out of God’s infinite glory, may God give you the power through God’s Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God. Eph 3: 16-19

Kitty Ellard IJS

Evangelisation. (March 24th. 2021)

St Patrick's Day – The Dolly MamaI like to be prepared for deadlines, so I am writing this reflection on 17th March, the Feast of St Patrick.

What does that name bring to your mind? The trafficked teenager snatched from the comfort of his Romano-British town to be sold into slavery in a barbarous land? The bearded bishop, mitre on head, crozier in one hand and sprig of shamrock in the other, who achieved the evangelisation of the Irish people?

The latter is the traditional image; certainly the one with which my generation was brought up. It conveys authority, status, certainty, and in Patrick's case surely – outstanding success, if such things can be measured. Tens of thousands of pagans baptised, priests ordained, churches founded, houses of nuns established. Thirteen hundred years later having survived centuries of religious oppression, Catholic Ireland was able to send its own evangelisers back into Britain and around the English-speaking world. Most of us would have been baptized, or introduced to the Faith by some of them.

Patrick lived in the fifth century, we don't know exactly when; it is possible that he died in 461. Scholars only accept two documents allegedly written by him as authentic and dependable sources for information on his life: his 'Confession' and his 'Letter to Coroticus'. Google them. They are well worth reading and pondering.

The 'Confession' reveals a man painfully aware of his own shortcomings – and aware of how quickly his (Christian) opponents are to belittle what he attempts to do and to disparage his motives for doing it. He openly acknowledges his youthful lapses and indifference to his faith, despite a father who was a deacon and a grandfather who was a priest. Despairing teachers or parents of truculent adolescents, take heart. And how Jesus has become the centre of his world! Everything he writes echoes St Paul's comment, 'For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.' Phil.1.21.

I don't know how you respond to hearing other peoples' accounts of their conversion to a living faith in Christ. Without questioning their sincerity, I have to admit that I find some to be toe-curlingly embarrassing. Others, perhaps by the quiet joy and evident gratitude with which they are given, are powerful testimony to me of God's continuing work in our world.

And for me, Patrick's 'Confession' is one such. It is evangelisation at its most vulnerable, and most compelling. And I would suggest that it is one form of evangelisation that might make someone living in 2021 to think that this Jesus could be worth investigating. A belated happy St Patrick's Day.

LORD, I want nothing more,

I desire nothing more

only to be ready to desire what you desire

and as you desire it.

It is enough for me that you hold me in your presence,

that you take care of everything,

that you watch over all my concerns,

all that happens to me …..

and that nothing escapes your adorable guidance of my life.

O Jesus! O Love!

You are my God and my All ….

(Blessed Nicolas Barré Letter 12.) Gerard Boylan.

7th March 2021

Theme: Remaining at peace; being prophets of hope



Easter greetings of joy, love, peace and hope to all. In Thursday’s gospel at Mass we hear Jesus say “Peace be with you” to the grieving and confused disciples in the upper room. For a while I have been letting peace quotes flow over and seep into me, e.g.: “Peace I leave you. My peace I give you”. Jn14:27

“Whatever happens be always at peace and trust in God”. (Nicolas Barré Letter 61.) 

Reflection 1: A passage from Letter 41 initially had a disturbing effect on me. Here it is: “God’s peace is like roses that are always surrounded by thorns. Rejoice when you are surrounded by thorns, powerless and in darkness.”  

It is a challenge to have to suffer at times in the pursuit of peace. Pope Frances impresses on us that we are called to be mediators of peace “spending ourselves generously till we are consumed, knowing that the only gain is peace. We are called to unite and not divide, to extinguish hatred and not hold on to it, to open paths of dialogue and not construct new walls.”

Reflection 2: “The path to peace does not mean making society blandly uniform, but getting people to work together, side by side, in pursuing goals that benefit everyone  We need to value people for the promise that they embody-a promise that always brings with it a spark of new hope.” Fratelli Tutti

Blessing: Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.

The Four Candles - YouTube

Jo Cremin IJS




3rd March 2021

Evangelisation

‘Whoever welcomes a poor abandoned child, doubly welcomes Jesus Christ’ S.R.

Some years ago a young girl attended the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. She was a pupil at the local Catholic School. A teacher from the school made contact with me as she was concerned that the girl was very unhappy, not interested in school and had no friends. I agreed that she could

come to the Pony Centre and a few days later her teacher brought her along. She was very withdrawn and didn’t speak. When I asked her if she would like

to have a ride on a pony her face lit up, showing a tiny smile.

That was the beginning of a change. The girl continued to come with her teacher and, in addition, she also came on her own at the weekends. The months went by and her confidence grew and she would attend the Pony Centre at any given opportunity. At a weekend pony camp the children were asked to paint a picture of their favourite pony. This girl was initially very re- luctant to draw or paint as she said she was no good but with some encour- agement she picked up the brush and before long she produced an incredi- ble painting of a pony. All the paintings were pinned up on the wall and the

next time the girl’s teacher came I showed her the beautiful piece of work. The teacher was amazed and said she had no idea she had such a talent. Following the discovery of her artistic abilities she began to slowly achieve other things at school.

The girl continued to attend the Pony Centre for several more years. She be- came a very good rider and took part in riding displays and other activities. On these occasions the parents were invited to come and watch their chil- dren riding. Sadly for this young girl her mother showed no interest in com- ing to see her daughter ride but the she was always supported by her school teacher and all those at the Pony Centre.

‘Whoever welcomes a poor abandoned child, doubly welcomes Jesus Christ’ S.R.

Some years ago a young girl attended the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. She was a pupil at the local Catholic School. A teacher from the school made contact with me as she was concerned that the girl was very unhappy, not interested in school and had no friends. I agreed that she could

1st Reflection

‘Do not worry if you lose the sense of God’s presence in the midst of your work. It is often necessary to give your time and attention to the needs of your neighbour, without diverting your thoughts to God. After all, it is God’s work you are engaged in and, even if you do not feel His presence, He is there, truly present.’

Letter 27 Nicolas Barré

Prayer

Let us pray that we help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us.

This is what I do.

And I do it with my heart.

Pope Francis

Sister Mary Joy Langdon IJS

24th February 

 CREATED FOR A PURPOSE: HUMAN DIGNITY

As I was taking a walk in the park this morning the rising sun broke through the heavy mist hovering over the nearby hills. As I followed the rays of light my eyes were drawn to an ancient tree, its roots resting in infinity, its trunk notched and scared by storms endured and its bare branches reaching out in a gesture of welcome. My mind, dimmed by the fog of the health crisis, and a heart feeling ragged around the edges because of a recent loss, I found healing and peace in the strong and comforting embrace of nature. The words of Nicolas Barré on which I had been reflecting the previous day, with some negative stirrings, I must admit, came to mind.

“You are chosen to live in this time in history, for a particular purpose. God has committed some work to you which He has not committed to another. He has promised to be with you always”.

Today, these words of St. John Henry Newman took on a completely new perspective. I felt privileged that God had chosen and trusted me to participate in a period of history that was encompassing the worst of times and the best of times, times when more attention was given to the human dignity of the person and when creativity and growth were stretched to extraordinary lengths in response to the urgent needs of the day.

1st REFLECTION: “Allow yourself to be taken over by a sense of awe in God reaching out to you, as though you were the only one who mattered. Reflect on the wonder and mystery of being chosen.”(Letter 36)

2nd REFLECTION: Like the ancient tree: “Live in the moment, just take it all in. Pay attention to everything, right there and then. And the persons you’re with, in the moment you share, give them all of your focus; be totally there. Growth is not in the taking but in how much you give. You become who you are in the moments you live.” Patricia A. Fleming

GAELIC PRAYER: Slainte mhor agus a h-uile beannacht duibh. Good health and every blessing.

Catherine O’Sullivan IJS (Feb 24th 2021)       





HUMAN DIGNITY

Wednesday 9th February 2021

Introduction: We are called to reflect on the dignity of each human being. Nicolas Barré, and also many saints and great personalities of their time reminded us that every person is infinitely loved by God and everybody can reflect some aspect of God to us. Yes, this we know very well. However, the question can be, whether we always count ourselves in. Sometimes I wonder if respect for another person´s dignity does not start right here. Can we really love and esteem other people if we are deep down unsure of our own dignity? My work has taught me to distinguish between guilt, i.e., a feeling following some concrete wrong behaviour, and shame, a more generalised feeling that includes the whole person. I was surprised to discover how many people see themselves as quite undefinably bad and to see how many different strategies they use to escape this shame. Some behave in such a way, that they confirm for themselves their unworthiness. Some are striving for an unreachable perfection while some are so afraid to read the expected condemnation of themselves in other people’s eyes that they became merciless judges of others. Yet, we have to believe that we are accepted even before we become acceptable to ourselves. God is on our side. Jesus came to give us back our dignity, to show us that He loves us as we are and that we do not have to deserve this love. Only when we accept this gift, are we really able to share it with others.

Reflection 1: When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God… The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (Luke 13: 12-13, 15-16)

Reflection 2: “Above all, reflect on the immensity of God’s unique and personal love for you. Listen to the invitation: “Come then, my beloved, my lovely one, come.”

The real mystery is in God’s love for us rather than in our love for God.

“My beloved is mine and I belong to the beloved”

(Letter 36)

Prayer: Merciful God, through blessed Nicolas Barré, You call us to help the world to see and respect the human dignity of each person. You know that it is not always easy and that sometimes we struggle with our own self-acceptance and feelings of unworthiness. Help us to see and experience your unconditional love and to open our hearts to it, so that we will be still more able to see your reflection in every person you are sending in our way.

Blessing: May we get to know and experience God’s unconditional love, so we are still more able to see the dignity and beauty of each human person.

Klára Maliňáková IJS





23rd December 2020

Theme: The Incarnation.

Christmas: Isaiah 9 / Carl Bloch: The Birth of Jesus

Introduction: As I write this, our news in the U.K. is full of items about vaccinations against the Corona Virus. They are about to be administered to the first 'at risk' group of the population. We hope that production will be sufficient for the country's needs, and that commercial rivalry and financial advantage will not stop the producers from sharing their knowledge. We all know who will be the losers if they decide not to do so. It will be the poor, and especially the poor in countries of the developing world who will be the last to receive any help.

When Nicolas Barré asked for volunteers to teach in his 'Charitable Schools' he was asking them to work in the poorest and most unhealthy parts of cities such as Paris, Rouen and Rheims. At that time epidemic diseases were an annual hazard of city life in northern Europe. Often they were fatal. There were no effective vaccinations, because no-one knew the cause of diseases or how best to combat them. Those who could afford to do so ran away, and stayed away in the countryside until the epidemic had passed. Minim friars didn't run away; they remained at their posts serving Christ in his brothers and sisters.

It would be two hundred years before another Frenchman, Louis Pasteur could show that invisible microbes caused disease, and from his work was developed the germ theory and the first successful vaccines.

Reflection 1:When God became a human being at the Incarnation, he came to live among the poor, who, then as now, were the most at risk, the most exploited, the most powerless, the most likely to be overlooked, the ones who always had to wait at the back of the queue. Blessed Nicolas was fully aware of this. In the Book of the Institute we read:

Reflection 2: The mystery of the Incarnation is a mystery of poverty: “God was rich, but became poor for our sake, to make us rich out of his poverty.” (2Cor. 8:9) Christ entered fully into the human condition and chose to be born and live as a poor person. By his words and actions, he shows that the Kingdom of God is revealed when the Good News is proclaimed to the poor. Responding to his call, we discover the joy of entering into the mystery of his poverty and of sharing in the choices he made. (B.I. 28)

Blessing: Merciful Lord Jesus, come to the aid of our weakness. Keep us aware of the needs of our brothers and sisters. Save us from complacency and selfishness that even now we may begin to respond to your call and live as your disciples. Amen.

Gerard Boylan





The Incarnation Wednesday 16th December 2020

 Introduction:

On giving advice to a young woman Nicolas Barré said:

“ The spiritual life is a difficult journey which demands great patience. Human efforts alone do not produce fruits. Obedience to God’s will is the sure way. The greater the awareness of one’s own weakness, the more open to God one is going to be”. Letter 48

We continue our personal journey through Advent which brings us daily demands. Let us try to have a greater awareness of the fragility of all life which has been made so real by the coronavirus. We journey towards Bethlehem with a deeper awareness of our own weakness which will help make us more open to the Incarnation in our simply daily lives.


Reflection 1 Christ entered fully into the human condition and chose to be born and live as a poor person. By his words and actions, he shows that the Kingdom of God is revealed when the Good News is proclaimed to the poor. 2Cor. 8:9

Reflection 2 In her YES at the Annunciation, Mary gave her entire life so that the mystery of the Incarnation could be accomplished. In accepting that God would make use of her, she has given us an example to follow. Our prayer, like that of Mary, gradually leads us to will what God wills for us. (B.I. 21]

Prayer

Let us respond to His call where we will discover the joy of entering into the mystery of His poverty and sharing in the choices that He made. Christ entered fully into the human condition and chose to be born and live as a poor person, may we now follow this example which will lead us to that simple stable and royal crib.

Blessing

May you permit God to guide you along the road to Bethlehem

May you become more aware of your own weakness as you travel the road

May you like Mary, say yes to accepting the will of God in your life.

Amen

Mary Joy Langdon IJS

The Incarnation

Wednesday 8thDecember 2020 

Nicolas Barré’s idea of humility was based on its Latin root, ‘humus’ meaning ‘earth’. In the story of creation, humanity is formed in the image of God, the Creator, who breathed life into the earth. Nicolas Barré believed that this creation continues taking place when the Spirit breaths on the earth of our own reality. He says that we must return to our own ‘nothingness’, to who we really are before God so that we can be re-created and reclaimed by the Spirit. ‘Let us look deep within ourselves and yearn for a second incarnation to take place within us. We must trust in God and abandon ourselves to him alone.’ (R.R.4)

In this second week of Advent, we will endeavour to stay calm and wait patiently with hope as we prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming. We should be ready to put aside our everyday worries in this very difficult time and welcome him into our everyday lives.

I took the photo above last year in Tintagel, Cornwall and it reminds me of the struggle we all face day to day but shows that if we stay true to ourselves and to God then he will bring us through. I felt that it was so relevant today in relation to Covid-19 but there will be a way through if we are patient. The image is of an old castle wall which has seen more struggles, battles and disease than most of us will see in our lifetime but it is still standing and we can see the daylight and the beauty beyond it.

Reflection 1

‘Whatever happens be always at peace and trust in God. What you experience will be in proportion to your faith, your hope and your love and even more abundantly than that.’ Letter 61. Reflection 2

‘And on that day, it will be said ‘Look this is our God, in him we put our hope that he should save us, this is Yahweh, we put our hope in him’. Isaiah 25 : 9.

Prayer: Loving God, be with us. You are the Saviour of the World, you alone are God, give us the wisdom of humility to trust in you and of hope to see beyond the walls that sometimes enclose us. We pray for all those who are lonely and frightened at this time or have no support, and pray that they will come to know you and find peace in your loving arms.

Blessing: Deep Peace of the running wave to you, Deep Peace of the flowing air to you, Deep Peace of the quiet earth to you, Deep Peace of the shining stars to you, Deep Peace of the Son of Peace to you.

https://youtu.be/xBjq0TeCz3E Sue Allen 



          Theme: The Incarnation

Wednesday 2nd December, 2020

Devotion to the Infant Jesus and the mystery of the Incarnation was central to 17th century spirituality in France. Nicolas Barré encouraged the first Sisters to centre their lives on God present among us and in all of creation. “The Institute has its origin in the very Heart of God, who so loved the world that He gave His only Son to instruct people and teach them the way to salvation…”.(S.R.1:1)

The season of Advent has begun; it is a time of waiting, of being alert, aware and attentive. We keep watch for Christ’s coming in our everyday world.

Reflection 1: “Stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep… I say to all: Stay Awake.” (Mark Ch 13: 33-37)

The Covid-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of our own fragility and the cries of the earth in an ever growing climate emergency. But, we wait in joyful hope for the master of the house to return. Advent alertness is to know that there will always be the unexpected breakthrough of God in our lives.

Reflection 2: Pope Francis: “In this time of tribulation and mourning, I hope that you will be able to experience Jesus, who comes to meet you, greets you and says REJOICE.”

Concluding prayer: “Merciful Father, guide us through the coming weeks and help us to embrace with joy this holy time of Advent, so that we may enter more fully into the mystery of the Incarnation and celebrate your arrival at Christmas with ready and joyful hearts.”

Blessing: May God bless us with his peace and joy as we stay alert to his coming among us. Rosemary Barter IJS 



TRUST IN DIVINE PROVIDENCE

Wednesday 11th November 2020

 Introduction: Nicolas Barré invites us to abandon ourselves entirely to God’s divine providence, to trust that God will take care of us especially when we take care of others and their full development. However encouraging these words may be, this call can also be challenging at times. I often give a talk about God´s will. I invite my students to ponder their reaction to the following situation: “Imagine yourself saying to God, that He can do with you and your life whatever He wants. How does it feel?” It is sad to see that so often this imaginative exercise can be a very negative experience. Here is the key question: “Do I really, deep down in my heart, see God as the loving One, as the God of life?” It is not always easy to place our trust into God´s hands; part of us might still be slow to believe in such good news; we would like to stay in control - just in case! However, if we do not take this step, we will never experience that overwhelming sense of liberation and unity with God, this wonderful adventure of journeying with Him. If we find ourselves still struggling to take a step on this journey, let´s start by inviting God into our struggle and placing this difficulty into His loving and tender hands.

Reflection 1: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you...

...You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you...”

(Is. 43:1-2, 3)

Reflection 2: “Be happy to place yourself in my hands, to abandon yourself to my guidance, to do everything in and through me, in confidence, love, obedience and abandonment.”

(Letter 13)

Prayer: Merciful God, through blessed Nicolas Barre, You call us to abandon ourselves entirely to Your guidance and Your providence. You know that it is not always easy for us. You know us and our hurts that so often complicate our journey. But yet, we trust that Your love is stronger than all of this. Help us to abandon ourselves to Your love, so we can really hear Your gentle voice in our hearts, so we can be free to let go anything that may hinder us on our way to You. Help us to give ourselves more and more to You, so we can more and more became real instruments of Your love to this world.

Blessing: May we get to know and experience God’s unconditional love, so we are still more able to entrust ourselves unconditionally to God’s providence.

Klára Maliňáková IJS

TRUST IN DIVINE PROVIDENCE

Wednesday 4th November 2020


Introduction: Nicolas Barré lived his whole life with absolute trust in God’s divine providence, confident that he was being led, step by step, to whatever God wanted for him. He only had to remain open and free in his mind and heart and be alert to what was going on around him. In this way God would nudge him and lead him forward. He looked, listened and noticed, taking all he observed back to God in prayer. As he walked around the local streets he saw that the children were running wild. He became aware that education would enable them to reach their full potential. He decided to set up some ‘little schools’ with a few like-minded women, which eventually led to the birth of the Institute of the Infant Jesus sisters. He simply followed God’s promptings, trusting that God was with him every step of the way.

May we open our minds and hearts to wherever God may lead each one of us, trusting that we will never be asked to do more than we are able. May we have the courage to take the first steps as we follow God’s gentle promptings, even if we don’t know exactly where they will lead.

Reflection 1: “I will lead the blind by a road they do not know,

by paths they have not known I will guide them.

I will turn the darkness before them into light,

the rough places into level ground.

These are the things I will do,

and I will not forsake them.” (Is. 42:16)

Reflection 2: “Close your eyes, throw yourself into my arms,

act only through me.

Let your one concern be to obey me and follow me

in everything and through everything.” (Letter 13)

Prayer: God our Father, may we, like Nicolas Barré, entrust our journey through life to your divine providence, without knowing exactly where you will lead us. Help us to trust and believe that whatever you ask of us will be no more that we can achieve. May we recognise the gifts that you have given us and use them for your glory and the good of our neighbour.

Blessing: May God’s providence guide us on every step of our journey through life.

Marie Pitcher IJS



Week 2 October 28th 2020

Introduction:

Some thoughts and hopes on what vocation might mean to a lay woman today.

Scripture:

“In their hearts humans plan their lives but the Lord establishes their steps.”(Proverbs 16:9)

“My soul clings to you and your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:8)

Reflection 1:

On the feast of Nicolas, whose writings give me so much inspiration and during these strange times of a global pandemic, I want to consider how God calls me to follow Him and take a good look at my life; a glance backwards but more importantly a look ahead with hope.

I will try to gather my musings and ramblings into some sort of coherent prose.

There are a few words to describe how I follow God’s call: vocation, ministry, volunteering, community involvement I have been both encouraged and flattened by the language used but I now realise that the words are merely an attempt to describe what is beyond language, beyond dictionaries and thesaurus but are simply the content of my heart; the spilling out of hopes and dreams and a love for God and each other. It is a desire for God’s kingdom here on earth and for peace, deep down peace. The call and the plans of a loving God for us.

My life, as I enter my 60th year, has not been unusual: education, marriage, children, fairly ordinary ‘though in more recent years there have been some less predictable twists and turns that are indeed less comfortable and comforting than expected.

However, I believed that I did my best to respond to God’s call, (often more like exasperated mutterings) but had I really listened?

Over the years I have tried to keep close to Jesus, to follow where he leads and to work in a world where people matter. The challenges were many but the opportunities for fulfilment were beyond measure. I have journeyed with some amazing people and the chance to study as a mature student opened up my mind and allowed me to grow, to flourish, to ponder and to seek! How the words from Proverbs have become real and vivid to me - ‘In my heart I plan my way but it is the Lord who establishes my steps’! (Prov 16:9)

But sometimes, these lofty thoughts and ideals seem to slip further and further away until the glass is so dark I cannot see through to find my way. This is where a line from Scripture has truly sustained me “My soul clings to you and your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:8) I have mumbled these words so often they merge and have become a jumble of unrecognisable sounds known only to my own heart.

In my ongoing conversation with God, I attempt to discern and understand what He has in mind for me.

To conclude this meditation I will attempt to vocalise what is in my heart:

Always stay hopeful and try to be authentic and truthful to yourself. Listen to what stirs your heart, what makes you angry or impassioned, what makes you want to speak out? Identify your passions, the issues that burden your heart and follow them.

Listen to the whisperings in the stillness and you will know because you will no longer be restless but at peace with your decisions and most of all, trust in God alone.

I take great comfort from what Nicolas Barré says, especially in the following:

‘It is God alone who can satisfy us; all else is but a means, a direction or a path. God is our goal, the centre and object of all our motivations. We should devote our energies only to whatever will lead us in this direction’. (Letter 9)

‘Never forsake your centre within,

But find your being always in God;

Neither have nor see another way’ (Canticle 44)

Finally

To finish I hope you can listen to this hymn by Jo Boyce. It reminds us all so beautifully that it is in God alone that we will find our way, our path and our rest.

https://youtu.be/Q0zdBQOmQrc?t=3S

Suzanne O’Malley






Wednesday October 21st 2020


Introduction: Blessed Nicolas Barré, Founder of the Infant Jesus Sisters, was born in France, on October 21st 1621. As a young man he joined the Order of Minims which was founded by St. Francis of Paola. In Fr. Barré’s lifetime, France suffered war, famine and a plague which lasted 20 years. He was deeply aware of the cries of those who suffered most. The ministries he undertook, including the setting up of the Institute, and his writings, reflect the depths of his awareness, his profound compassion and his trust in the Providence of God. He has much to teach us today. Let us begin this jubilee year by celebrating his birth.

Reflection 1: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth, I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.’ (Jer. 1:5)

Reflection 2: ‘They belong to God and God belongs to them,

The Spirit carries them where it wills.

Acts in them, possesses them, moves them.

Like faithful servants.

No feather borne hither and thither upon the wind,

Moves with such grace and freedom,

As do they, who allow themselves

To be carried by God,

Without resisting’ (Spiritual Canticle 37)

Prayer: Gracious Father, thank you for Nicolas Barré and the many gifts you entrusted to him, including the charism of the Institute. We thank you for his fidelity and his lifelong dedication to your call, despite many hardships and challenges. We ask you, through his intercession, that this year of jubilee may be for each of us a journey of renewal and conversion which continues to draw us towards you.

Blessing: May God bless us all and keep us safe.

Margaret Walsh IJS      

Let us continue to bless each other using the words of Fr Nicolas Barré

Whatever happens always be at peace and trust in God. Nicolas Barré



Inspired by God's Spirit, we are  invited to become co-creators with God today?

A time of personal discernment enabling God's call for the Province at this time to be heard.

We are called to be united in mission

Respect, value & appreciate one another.                          Change begins with me!

Avoid labelling & judging.

Affirm, appreciate & draw out the gifts of others.

Embrace co-responsibility with courage.

Have IJ gatherings to promote greater unity of heart and mission.

We are called to care for the sisters

Develop new life-giving care for our elderly infirm sisters.

See God at work in our times & circumstances.

Give encouragement for sisters to remain missionaries to the end.

Province Assembly, Emmaus, Dublin

We are called to care for the Earth 

Taking Action.....

Sisters motto: 'Waste not Want not'

Community motto: 'Live by example' 

Provincial Team motto: 'Sustainable Living'  


We are called to.....  

Share our Spirituality 

With lay people

Living out out spirituality in community and wherever we find ourselves.

Embrace our 'fragility and vulnerability recognising within this we are still God's instruments.


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