Food for thought this Christmas (2012)
'The manger is the place where animals find their food. But now, lying in the manger, is he who called himself the true bread come down from heaven, the true nourishment that we need in order to be fully ourselves. This is the food that gives us true life, eternal life. Thus the manger becomes a reference to the table of God, to which we are invited so as to receive the bread of God. From the poverty of Jesus' birth emerges the miracle in which man's redemption is mysteriously accomplished'. (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, Bloomsbury 2012, p. 68).
May we draw sustenance from the Source of our ultimate wellbeing by contemplating, this Christmas, the mystery of God's entry into our world as a child. He shares our humanity so that we might share his divinity.
The mosaic is taken from Marko Rupnik's (S.J.) magnificent design of the Jesuit community chapel, Canisius house, Rome.
Food4Body, Food4Soul - THANKSGIVING DAY
On 22 November, Thanksgiving Day, more than forty of us from different Christian traditions, united in remembering all our blessings and their Source, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the spirit of the U.S. National Feast Day. Our prayer service was followed by a meal together in the Function Room, after which people lingered to chat and enjoy each other's company. All in all, a most successful and enjoyable evening in service, as always, of Jesus' dersire 'that all may be one'.
Icon: taken from chapel of the Irish College, Rome, designed by Marco Rupnik S.J.
Symbolism of fish: Greek for fish is icthus. Used as a code in early Christian times: Iesous (Jesus) CHristos (Christ) THeou (God) Uiou (Son) Soter (Saviour). Red represents divinity and blue, humanity, in Rupnik's iconography. Christ in his divinity, therefore, plunges into our humanity in order to 'divinise' it. Christ is our Saviour! This is the core of our common faith. Let us rejoice and give thanks...together!
Mass in Belfield Church at 1.05pm to celebrate All Souls Day.
On this day we remember all our relatives and friends 'who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith' (Eucharistic liturgy).
'We believe in the communion of saints, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting' (Creed). And so, we remember - in the sense of making present to us - our loved ones 'for whom life has changed, not ended' (Funeral liturgy).
"To imagine ourselves outside the temporality that imprisons us and in some way to sense that eternity is not an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality—this we can only attempt. It would be like plunging into the ocean of infinite love, a moment in which time—the before and after—no longer exists. We can only attempt to grasp the idea that such a moment is life in the full sense, a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy. This is how Jesus expresses it in Saint John's Gospel: “I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (16:22). We must think along these lines if we want to understand the object of Christian hope, to understand what it is that our faith, our being with Christ, leads us to expect" (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi §12).
Mass at 1.05pm in Belfield Church to celebrate the Feast of All the Saints.
"Holiness never goes out of fashion; on the contrary, with the passage of time it shines out ever more brightly, expressing man's perennial effort to reach God." (Pope Benedict XVI).
"Holiness is not something for the extraordinary; it is not a luxury of the few. Holiness is the simple duty for each one of us." (Mother Teresa of Calcutta).
Reflections on pilgrimage
Date: 25 October 2012 Time: 4-5.30pm
Venue: St. Stephen's chaplaincy
The theme of pilgrimage was chosen because the 25 Oct stands between two great Muslim festivals related to pilgrimage: the Hajj (24th) and Eid Ul-Adha (26th). The importance of these festivals was explained by our Muslim friends who emphasised unity and the equality of all (rich and poor) as a central value in the tradition of pilgrimage to Mecca and/or other local pilgrimages. We also heard about the significance of pilgrimage for Christians, Baha'i's, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jews who were represented at our gathering, either in person or in the words they prepared for the event.
To the left and from the left, our Muslim (Khadijah), Christian (Lucie and Annie) and Jewish (Natalia) friends 'standing together'.
Pic to the right, Stef and friend enjoy the Interfaith calendar. There was one for everyone in the audience!
These are just a few of the many who gathered around a circle over a nice cup of coffee (and Frances' delicious scones!) to share the richess and richness of their faith. In this way, we seek to grow in mutual regard and respect and to form friendships, thus building up the unity we all agree is of supreme value to human life. For Christians, the task of building unity among all is inspired by the words of Jesus, That all may be one (John 17).
Who do people say I am?
We resumed our ecumenical gatherings with a question, Jesus' challenging question to us all, Who do people say I am? The question aptly opens the 'Year of Faith' during which we face together the Churches' urgent task of making Christ known again in places where he has been forgotten.
Date: 11 October 2012. Opening of the Year of Faith, 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II.
Venue: St. Stephen's chaplaincy
Time: 6pm prayer, 6.30pm food and festivities.
This was a wonderful gathering of between 40 and 50 students from various Christian denominations and many different countries and continents. Some from other faiths and others just 'coming to see', graced our gathering and indicated how the message of Jesus - the Person of Jesus - continues to draw us all into closer communion.
The food also was delicious!
Faith & Secular Society
Date: 10 October 2012
The chaplaincy was delighted to host the Newman Society's guest speaker, Fr. Jim Corkery S.J., who spoke to the topic Faith and Secular Society.
Fr. Jim is a professor of systematic theology at the Milltown Institute and an expert in the theology of Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). He lived up to his reputation as an accomplished presenter of material and masterful as a teacher and audience facilitator.
As expected, his presentation was stimulating and inspiring, and the ensuing conversation and Q/A with the thirty or so students (and others), was enlightening and engaging.
Here is a flavour of his talk: 'This evening I will focus (aided by John Water's recent book Beyond Consolation) on the 'silent melody' of public culture today that 'hums' the implicit (and insidious) tune that 'unbelief is smarter than belief' (83, 112). I will suggest.....that we need, in this 'secular age', to find new ways of 'imaging our lives' that are not so ruled by the 'background music' ... of the cultural refrains that seep, surreptitiously, into our own lived assumptions'.
Fr. Corkery challenged the prevaling assumptions of secularism, offering to his audience a new confidence to embrace and to be a bit more 'feisty' in proclaiming the Christian faith as a reasonable and intelligent position to hold.
Compostela Walk Information Evening
Annual UCD Walk to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, May 2013
INFORMATION EVENING for those interested:
Date: Wednesday, October 3rd 2012
Place: Room 118, Quinn Business SchooL
Gillian Kingston met twelve would-be pilgrims and laid out her stall for the 2013 pilgrimage walk to Compostela.
Trip to Glendalough
Saturday 29 September 2012.
30 brave students headed for Glendalough for a day trip that turned out to be sunny and bright and full of novelty for many, especially our visitors from Malaysia, Chile, Iran...and the hand-full of Irish too who were visiting this ancient monastic site for the first time. We were able to learn all about the history of Glendalough in the interpretative centre and after a stroll to the beautiful upper lake, we headed up the hill to St. Kevin's cell where there is a simple scupture of St. Kevin and the Blackbird, which the poet laureate, Séamus Heaney, immortalised in his poem of the same title. We paused for a moment in silence in that place as we tried to connect with 'Love's deep river' flowing through that sacred place and entering for a brief moment also into our souls. Perhaps our awareness grew of 'the network of eternal life' which surrounds us but which often evades us in the din of modern life. Like the poet, we glimpsed for a moment the mind and heart of St. Kevin who sought and found God in that secluded and exquisitely beautiful place, Glendalough, the valley of two lakes.
St Kevin and the Blackbird
And then there was St Kevin and the blackbird.
The saint is kneeling, arms stretched out, inside
His cell, but the cell is narrow, so
One turned-up palm is out the window, stiff
As a cross-beam, when a blackbird lands
And lays in it and settles down to rest.
Kevin feels the warm eggs, the small breast, the tucked
Neat head and claws and, finding himself linked
Into the network of eternal life,
Is moved to pity: Now he must hold his hand
Like a branch out in the sun and rain for weeks
Until the young are hatched and fledged and flown.
And since the whole thing's imagined anyhow,
Imagine being Kevin. Which is he?
Self-forgetful or in agony all the time
From the neck on out down through his hurting forearms?
Are his fingers sleeping? Does he still feel his knees?
Or has the shut-eyed blank of underearth
Crept up through him? Is there distance in his head?
Alone and mirrored clear in Love's deep river,
'To labour and not to seek reward,' he prays,
A prayer his body makes entirely
For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird
And on the riverbank forgotten the river's name.
*Seamus Heaney, born 1939 in Co. Derry, poet laureate, recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, considered by some to be the greatest poet of our age.
Orientation Week Welcome
On Thursday 6 September, from 4pm to 5.30pm, UCD chaplains and students welcomed our new students to St. Stephen's chaplaincy. More than forty people were present, including the chaplains and auditors of the Newman Society, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Christian Union and Livingstones, each of whom gave a brief presentation of their activities on campus and their ongoing association with the chaplaincy.
To lighten the proceedings, we had nice cup of tea/coffee and some delicious home-made scones prepared by Frances (coordinator of St. Stephen's). People mixed and mingled for over an hour and then left quietly....and satisfied, by all accounts.
UCD Chaplaincy report 2012
https://imap.ucd.ie/uwc/webmail/attach/Pdf_Global_Minds_Chaplaincy_Report_2012-4.pdf?sid=&mbox=INBOX&uid=38764&number=2&filename=Pdf%20Global_Minds_Chaplaincy_Report_2012-4.pdf end Chaplaincy general start Chaplaincy general
Santiago de Compostela 2012
Our Camino Pilgrimage Walk of 2012 has just finished with a group of
twelve - led by John Callanan S.J. and Gillian Kingston of the UCD
chaplaincy - taking on the section of the route from Pamplona to
Burgos. Our usual routine is that we start walking around 6.30 a.m.
to avoid the heat and complete our alloted eighteen miles or so of
tramping by lunchtime.
Along the way our students usually meet really interesting characters
with stories to tell. The sharing that goes on - as well as some of
the interactions within our own group - are an essential part of the
experience as is our nightly group Mass which we share together and at
which the events of the day can be reflected upon.
We offer a short prayer of thanks to St James for helping make the
trip such a delight and for helping overcome the pain of the blisters.
(Report of Fr. John, right of pic)
The 2012 Pilgrimage Walk to Compostela de Santiago in aid of Peter McVerry's work with homeless young people in Ireland was brought to its conclusion this week with a meal in St Stephen's chaplaincy for all who were involved with the effort. This has been our tenth year of taking on the wonderful Spainish experience and over Euro 80,000 has been raised for Fr McVerry's really worthwhile work.
Our picture shows the students and chaplains handing over the cheque to Fr McVerry in the UCD chaplaincy.
On Wednesday 18 April 2012, 6pm, at St. Stephen's chaplaincy (opp. 39A bus terminal), the chaplaincy organised the last of our ecumenical gatherings this year. The aim, as always: not only to witness to our Christian unity, but also to bring forward humbly but confidently, Christ's last will and testament 'that all may by one' (John 17:21). The picture opposite captures well our desire in union with Christ's desire. It represents the miraculous catch of fish being hauled in by the twelve apostles and it describes the saving mission of the Church which is guided and directed by the figure hidden from view here, Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The mosaic is a detail from Marco Rupnik's magnificent design in the chapel of the Spanish Bishops' Conference, Madrid, Spain.
Opposite: some of our dear Malaysian friends who joined us for the event.
'The Triumph of Good over Evil': what do the major religions have to say about this? What do our sacred texts teach us about this? What bearing does this teaching have on our decisions and actions?
Each faith represented at our humble gathering spoke to this topic for a brief 2-3 mins. After all had spoken, an opportunity for a short interchange followed. The discussion was respectful and enlightening as each person contributed to the exploration of the theme. Frances' delicious scones added a light touch to the weighty matters under review!
Here we see Amy and Blake in conversation.
Date: Thursday 12 April 2012
Place: St. Stephen's chaplaincy, UCD.
Student retreat:Friday 24 February to Sunday 26 February, 2012.
Location: Cicstercian Abbey, Roscrea.
Here we are in the guest house! Twelve 'apostles' and the retreat guide (Fr. Leon, far right of pic)!
This retreat followed the Ignatian method: largely a silent retreat, creating the conditions and the space to allow God to speak quietly and personally to each one. It was guided by Fr. Leon (chaplain) who suggested topics for prayer and reflection and offered some hints for meditation and contemplation. There was also the opportunity to join the monks in the Prayer of the Church throughout the day.
Each person left with some 'gift' or grace from God and hence in greater peace with him or herself and the world.
On Thursday 23 February, 1-1.30pm in Health Sciences' prayer room (end of C block, ground floor, on right), Fr. Leon (chaplain) led a Lenten reflection on 'Hope'. He showed a clip from the movie Shawshank Redemption in which Andy (pic) opens out for his fellow-prisoners the possibility of hope in a seemingly hopeless situation, reminding them that 'there are places apart from these grey, drap prison walls...' in which a man can feel free. That hope, he tells them, is inside, in one's heart, in one's mind and it is something that noone can take from you. Leon went on to quote some wonderful passages from Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical on hope, in which he distinguishes 'hope' or 'hopes' with a small 'h' and the great Hope, with a capital 'H', that also resides in the human heart - the Hope, precisely, for 'Redemption' with a capital 'R'! This Hope is only possible in God and it is the Hope that remains when all other 'hopes' have been either exhausted or fulfilled. It is the Hope that leads the soul to Eternity.
Friday 24 February: 'Ruah - Prayer with Elation', 8-9pm, Contemplation Room, St. Stephen's chaplaincy (opposite bus terminal).
Elation, ever popular with young people, delighted those who attended this event, with wonderful music for worship.
Light refreshments followed.
Thursday 1 March: Fr. John Callanan S.J. led a Lenten meditation with an eastern flavour, 1-1.30pm, in Health Sciences' prayer room.
A bunch of students attended and enjoyed - not only the meditation but the light refreshments afterwards too.
Where the Hell is God?
Wednesday 7 March, St. Stephen's chaplaincy, 7-8.30pm: Where the Hell is God? Fr. Richard Leonard S.J. talks about his book of the same title in which he explores the mystery of human suffering. This is a not a dry, theoretical 'take' on suffering, but a heart-felt, harrowing struggle to come to terms with his sister's devastating injuries following a car-crash a number of years ago.
Fr. Leonard is a well-known speaker who travels world-wide giving talks and seminars on Christian faith through the creative lens of cinema.
Below, students listening attentively to the speaker and asking some theologically challenging questions!
Prayer through Art
As part of UCD chaplains' Lenten series, Gillian Kingston, UCD chaplain and lay leader of the Methodist Church, gave a stimulating and enlighening presentation on 'Art and Prayer' in the Health Sciences prayer room, Thursday 22 March, 1-1.30pm.
The session was followed by some light refreshments - a convivial moment in which old friends meet and greet and new ones are integrated into the fold.
Who was Jesus?
UCD Christian Union and UCD Islamic society jointly present:
'Who was JESUS?'
Adnan Rashid an expert in Islamic civilisation and Jay Smith Biblical scholar, MA Islamic studies will present two different perspectives on the man that changed the course of history.
Thursday 23 February, Th. M Newman Building. 7pm.
Light refreshments afterwards in St. Stephen's chaplaincy. All welcome.
Congratulations Kwan Loong!
Congratulations to Kwan Loong (pictured second from left beside Alice far left and Wei and Emily) on his initiation into the Catholic Church on 19 February 2012, at Belfield church.
Kwan Loong took the baptismal name Francis Xavier after the great Jesuit missionary who travelled from the west to the east and spent some time in Malacca, Malaysia, Kwan Loong's homeland. To seal his connection with UCD where he has studied medicine for the last three years, he took the Confirmation name of John Henry after the Founder of UCD, Blessed John Henry Newman.
Kwan Loong was accompanied on his road to Christian faith by Alice, his sponsor and friend, and by Fr. Leon his spiritual guide. He was supported by many members of the Christian community who turned out in their numbers at the Sunday Mass of initiation. Afterwards, he was joined by the congregation at the student centre for light refreshments which afforded the legitimately proud community the opportunity to meet and greet and welcome him to the fold.
May God continue to bless, protect and guide you, Kwan Loong, as you return to Penang to complete your medical studies.
Go n-éirí an bóthar leat! May the road rise to greet you!
Slán agus beannacht!
People of faith.... Stand Together
On Wednesday 1st February, as part of International Week, the chaplains invited people of (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Baha'i, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh etc.) faith to 'stand together' in the Students' Union concourse in a gesture of solidarity with one another and to witness to the importance of religion for many people throughout the world.
In Europe, we are more and more exposed to the secularist agenda which would relegate religion to the private (and by implication, insignificant) sphere. As people of faith, we see the importance of religion as a powerful motivational force for good in society. Standing together, we can be strong and united in presenting those values which all religions promote, such as justice, love and peace; human rights; care for the poor; respect for the environment; worship that spills over into 'love of neighbour', etc.
The symbols on our pull-up banner (left) suggest that we can stand shoulder to shoulder on issues of mutual concern.
As Christians, this stance is not only justified, but deemed essential by Christ's own desire and heart-felt prayer: 'that all may be one' (John 17).
To end the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which had as its theme this year We will be changed (by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ), the chaplains invited all Christians of all denominations and traditions on campus to join them for prayer, fellowship and festivities (food!) on Wednesday 25 January 2012, 6pm, St. Stephen's chaplaincy. Just under 40 students turned up, so we had to host both the prayer and festivities it in the Function Room, where the group mixed and mingled for a few hours after our ecumenical prayer service.
We chose the beautiful icon opposite - Evie Hone's stained-glass depiction of the Sacred Heart devotion, promoted by the Society of Jesus and hence portraying some Jesuit historical figures such as Luigi Gonzaga who died in his early twenties serving those struck by the plague in Rome and Stanislaus Kotska, a Polish noble-man who, also in his early twenties, walked from Warsaw to Rome to join the fledgling Society - as it captures pictorially the kind of 'metanoia' or change of heart (and change of direction) suggested by the theme of our prayer and expressed beautifully by the prophet Ezekiel:
'I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh instead' (Ezekiel 36:26).
Thank God for yet another successful ecumenical gathering at St. Stephen's! Our friendship and solidarity across denominational differences, are growing and developing.