Listening to the Pope’s biographer

Saturday 3rd July 2021

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I was aware that this weekend we as England and Wales were having our National Assembly. I have so much to do each day that I often adopt an approach that says “The future can wait.” The positive ( I like to think there is always is one) if I really believe I should do something the sense to do it will grow. The sense was getting stronger by Thursday. I took the latest Focus to work and read it again on a break. The words “Let us dream together” spoke to my weary soul.

The theme was taken from the title of Pope Francis’s book coauthored by Austen Ivereigh who would lead the Saturday afternoon sessions.

Yesterday Friday was a difficult day, with too many demands and the accompanying anxiety. I drew on my inner guide and somehow found myself more relaxed by 8 pm, I registered to attend.

The North West region had planned the conference and its members in the morning reminded us of Ignatian tools to use in our daily life.

I noted the words spoken as we were introduced to the video ( below) which would walk us through the Examen. “The first novices of the Society of Jesus complained that they had too much to do. The one thing Ignatius would not let them drop was the examen.”

I understood the novices complaint.

Listening to the video I heard “If you don't have words look for an image”

I felt frustrated that I couldn't find the words to convey my emotions but the idea of an image was liberating, a bear came to mind.

CLC allows time to consider in silence what we have heard. I admitted to my small group that during this time I was going between the washing machine and the dryer. I told them that Tee had ended University and brought not only her washing home but her whole room. She had also been to Spain for a week which meant the laundry basket was overflowing. I was asking, “Lord how do I integrate praying with going between rooms?” One of my small group encouraged me by saying that the examen is an invitation to reflect, whatever we are doing.

I shared with them a prayer I had written in the supermarket cafe prior to the event,

“Father as you know I come with a list and as I write that I hear you say, “Ok so leave it at the door and the angels will take care of it.”

We then heard a member’s take on ‘Consolation and desolation. Again I heard a phrase from the presentation,

“Don’t change your decision when you are in desolation”

I had made a decision to embark on an extension of a lease and yet with everything else it was weighing heavily on me, the process, the cost and yet these words encouraged me to stay the course.

The afternoon was drawing on themes from Francis’s book. Covid like any crisis is a testing time will we respond by yielding to the better or to the worst, will we lament or will we discern?

Discussion centred around Francis vision for a as one which listens and discerns together the will of the Spirit.

Another theme that emerged for me was that it is in the margins where the spirit is working most creatively and hence it to the margins the centre must go to hear what the spirit is saying.

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Gordie Jackson

Speaks with a Northern Irish accent, lives in Hertfordshire, England.