Online Event – Reconciling With Our Past

Growing Old Grace-fully is hosting six online sessions in 2024.

The second is Reconciling With Our Past is on Wednesday 12th June, 2:30-3:30pm led by Pippa Bonner and Cath Mahoney.

Cath Mahoney is parishioner of Mother of Unfailing Help, mother and grandmother, with a background in community development, a former Growing Old Grace-fully worker and now a trustee.

Pippa Bonner is a parishioner at St Aelred’s Harrogate, a widow, mother and grandmother, with a background in social work, then running a hospice bereavement service and currently working in pastoral care with older people. Pippa is also a Trustee of Growing Old Grace-fully

Cath and Pippa will lead the session, which will involve breakout groups. 

The session will start at 2:30pm and finish at 3:30pm, a Zoom link will be circulated to all attendees in advance and the waiting room will be open from 2:25pm.

To reserve your place, please book a free ticket on Eventbrite here.  

Online Event – Spirituality in Later Life

Growing Old Grace-fully is hosting six online sessions in 2024.

The first is Spirituality in Later Life: Praying Beyond Words, on Tuesday 14th May, 7:00-8:00pm with Fr Donal Lucey and Paula Shanks. 

The session, with reflections and music, is being led by Father Donal Lucey and Paula Shanks. Fr. Donal is a retired Catholic priest of the Leeds Diocese, he was latterly parish priest in Garforth and in Harrogate and is the Chaplain to Faith and Light. Paula has a background in teaching and is trained in Ignatian spiritual accompaniment.

The session will start at 7pm and finish at 8pm.

To reserve your place, please book a free ticket on Eventbrite here.  

Please do also share this with anyone you think may be interested in this session and the work of Growing Old Grace-fully. 

The next two online sessions will be on these dates:

Wednesday 12th June – 2:30-3:30pm
Thursday 18th July – 7:00-8:00pm

Best wishes,
Carol Burns
On behalf of the Trustees of Growing Old Grace-fully

Easter Prayers

Resurrection Light

Risen Christ, when darkness overwhelms us
may your dawn beckon.

When fear paralyses us 
may your touch release us.

When grief torments us 
may your peace enfold us.

When memories haunt us 
may your presence heal us.

When justice fails us 
may your anger ignite us.

When apathy stagnates us 
may your challenge renew us.

When courage leaves us 
may your spirit inspire us.

When despair grips us 
may your hope restore us. 

And when death threatens us 
may your resurrection light lead us.

Amen.

Annabel Shilson-Thomas/CAFOD

You Are the Resurrection

How wonderful, Lord Jesus, you came back
You suffered death but conquered it
You laid in the tomb but on the third day
You rose again
O joyful day, Lord Jesus, when you returned
You are the resurrection, our hope and our life
O glorious and victorious Redeemer

Help us not to be afraid of death
For we must pass through it to see you face to face
And on the last day we will rise again
For you said so
Let us rejoice and praise you
Our Blessed and triumphant Lord
On this happy, joyful feast.

Amen.

Diana Ng-Sutherland/CAFOD

Stations of the Resurrection

Introduction

It has been a long-standing tradition that especially during Lent, we are encouraged to meditate on and pray the Stations of the Cross. Indeed Stations of the Cross are a prominent feature of any Catholic Church globally.

The Passion and Death of Our Lord needs to be seen equal to the importance of the Resurrection, which is the principal belief of Christianity.

Hence it is appropriate to reflect upon the events, recorded in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles in the period from the Resurrection of the Lord until Pentecost (the birthday of the Church). This whole period of 50 days is known as Eastertide.

Structure

The devotions of Holy Week are directed to the Resurrection which is, as St. Paul says, the basis of our Faith. If we are united with our Lord in his Passion and death, we share in His Resurrection. If we are with Him in his Holocaust on Calvary, we accompany Him in His glory. (St. Josemaria Escriva)

Opening Prayer:

Father we praise you with joy when Christ became our Paschal Sacrifice. By dying He destroyed our Death; by rising He restored our Life.

Title of the Station:

Please see details below with the appropriate scripture reading, hence you will need access to the New Testament.

V: We adore you Lord and praise you.
R: Because by your death and resurrection you give life to the world.

Scripture Reading:

Spend a short period reflecting on the reading.

Pray: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

V: Jesus, the Lord is Risen R: Alleluia, Alleluia.   

Titles of Each Station and relevant scripture reading:

First Station: Jesus rises from the dead. (Matthew 28:1-7)

Second Station: The Disciplines find the empty tomb. (John 20:1-9)

Third Station: The Risen Lord appears to Mary Magdalen. (John 20:11-18)

Fourth Station: The Risen Lord appears to two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-19,25-27)

Fifth Station: The Risen Lord reveals himself at the breaking of bread. (Luke 24:28-35)

Sixth Station: The Risen Lord appears to his disciples: (Luke:24:36-43)

Seventh Station: The Risen Lord gives the power to forgive sins. (John:20:19-23)

Eight Station: The Risen Lord confirms the faith of Thomas. (John 20:24-29)

Ninth Station: The Risen Lord meets his disciples on the shore of Galilee. (John 21:1-9,13)

Tenth Station: The Risen Lord confers primacy on Peter. (John 21:15-17)

Eleventh Station: The Risen Lord entrusts to his disciples His mission to the world. (Matthew 28:16-20)

Twelfth Station: The Risen Lord ascends to the Father. (Acts: 1:6-11)

Thirteenth Station: Waiting for the Holy Spirit with Mary the Mother of Jesus. (Acts 1:12-14)

Fourteenth Station: The Risen Lord sends the Holy Spirit to the disciples. (Acts 2:1-6)

Closing prayer After the 14th Station:

Father around your throne the Saints, our brothers and sisters, sing your praise forever.  Their glory fills us with joy and their communion with us in the Church gives us inspiration and strength as we hasten on our pilgrimage of faith, eager to meet them.

Amen.

Rev. Dr. Joseph D Cortis

March 2024

Prayers for Lent 2024

Lent is the time when we engage in a period of reflection, repentance, and spiritual renewal in preparation for Easter.

Central to this observance is prayer, which serve as a means of deepening one’s connection with God, seeking forgiveness for shortcomings, and strengthening faith.

Through prayer, we seek to emulate Christ’s forty days of fasting and prayer in the desert, drawing closer to God and embracing a spirit of self-discipline and humility. Lenten prayers are an integral part of the Catholic journey during this sacred season, guiding us toward spiritual growth, transformation, and a deeper understanding of God’s love and mercy.

In this particular Lent, we share the anguish of Jesus in the desert as we view the state of the current world today, its conflicts, anger and hatred, all the antithesis of the message of Christ. We unite our challenges, our ailments and our sufferings with the torment of Jesus over the state of the Earth to help us prepare for Holy Week, the chance of forgiveness, redemption and renewal for us and humanity.

Here are three prayers for Lent. See also our Lent resources page for further reflection and prayers.

The desert waits (an invitation to Lent)

The desert waits,
ready for those who come,
who come obedient to the Spirit’s leading;
or who are driven,
because they will not come the other way.

The desert always waits,
ready to let us know who we are-
the place of self-discovery.

And whilst we fear and rightly,
the loneliness and emptiness and harshness,
we forget the angels,
whom we cannot see because of our blindness,
but who come when God decides.
that we need their help;
when we are ready
for what they can give us

Amen.

Ruth Burgess from ‘Eggs and Ashes’ (1990)

The Beatitudes (inspired by Matthew 5:3-12)

Blessed are the poor…
not the penniless
but those whose heart is free.

Blessed are those who mourn…
not those who whimper
but those who raise their voices.

Blessed are the meek…
not the soft
but those who are patient and tolerant.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice…
not those who whine
but those who struggle.

Blessed are the merciful…
not those who forget
but those who forgive.

Blessed are the pure in heart….
not those who act like angels
but those whose life is transparent.

Blessed are the peacemakers
not those who shun conflict
but those who face it squarely.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for justice…
Not because they suffer
But because they love.

Amen.

P. Jacob in ‘Bread for Tomorrow’.

Cafod Lent Prayer 2024

Loving God,
when our boat is rocked
on the sea of life,
by poverty, illness or disaster,
you quiet the waves,
calm the storm,
and lead us safely to shore.

When we work hard,
for our daily bread,
but at the end of the day go hungry,
you walk alongside us,
calling, “cast out your nets”,
knowing there is enough for all.

When we are lost,
and uncertain of how
to make a change in our world,
your words ring out:
“Come, follow me”,
guiding us to new life with you.

Lead us then, Lord, to play our part
in calming the storm
and sharing your gifts with each other,
so that all people throughout the world
may look to the future with hope.

Amen.

Catherine Gorman/CAFOD

Lent Resources 2024

Pope Francis Lent message 2024

In his message for Lent 2024, Pope Francis invites the faithful to “pause” for prayer and to assist our brothers and sisters in need, in order to change our own lives and the lives of our communities.

Cafod Lent resources 2024

CAFOD have a range of Lent resources including prayers, reflections and an interactive calendar.  Sign up to the calendar and receive daily Lent emails of prayer, reflection and practical actions, offering an opportunity to pause, reflect and pray as we prepare for Easter.

Independent Catholic News resources

Independent Catholic News have published a series of resources for Lent 2024, from books, to apps, online series, email reflections and activities to choose from – listed in alphabetical order.

Happy Christmas from Growing Old Grace-fully

Our advent journey’s end – and a new beginning

As we reach the end of Advent, we celebrate the joyous feast of Christmas.

It is a moment when we contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation, the divine becoming human, and the immense love of God manifest in the humblest of forms. In the midst of the festive decorations and the warmth of our gatherings, let us take a moment to turn our hearts toward prayer, seeking to deepen our understanding of the profound significance of this holy season.

As we pray during this Christmas season, let us ponder the miracle of the Nativity, where heaven touched earth in the form of a tiny child born in a humble manger. Christmas is a celebration of hope, peace, and love, encapsulated in the gift of God’s Son to humanity.

At this challenging time in human history and facing the challenges of our own lives, we celebrate that the darkness is pierced with the greatest light to shine for all humanity. The words of the angel to the shepherds echo through time, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

In our prayers, let us express gratitude for the light that Jesus brought into the world—a light that dispels darkness and offers us the path to eternal life. May we find inspiration in the Holy Family, reflecting on the obedience of Mary, the courage of Joseph, and the vulnerability of the newborn King. As we exchange Christmas greetings, perhaps give and receive gifts and share meals with loved ones, let our prayers extend to those who are lonely, marginalised, or suffering, echoing the compassionate spirit of Christ.

This Christmas, may our hearts be filled with the true meaning of the season, and may our prayers unite us in a sense of shared joy and purpose. Let us open our hearts to receive the abundant blessings that flow from the manger in Bethlehem, embracing the transformative power of God’s love and mercy. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we offer these prayers, entrusting ourselves to the grace of the Christ Child born on this holy night.

Growing Old Grace-fully, Christmas 2023

Here are three Christmas prayers:

God of Joy

Remind me to rejoice 
Wrapped up in my Christmas gifts 
Tied down in my debts 
I have forgotten   

God of peace, 
Remind me of your calm 
In my anxiety 
And in my haste 
I have forgotten   

God of all 
Remind me 
Of the true light of Christmas 
Of your gift shared

In my own wants 
And in my own needs 
I have forgotten 
Wrapped up  in my little world 
Remind me of your world 
God of joy, remind me 
To rejoice 

Amen.

Linda Jones/CAFOD

Unadorned King

In the star we see the cross;
Its points, the thorns,
The azure ring, his robe.
The light which shines on all
The arms which embrace all. 

And this despite their mockery,
Mock majesty, pageant pantomime and pomp.
All human conceptions of kingship
Border on the Vaudeville
Verge on the burlesque. 

Kings in a stable out of proportion
Distorted, like the body on the cross.
Our attempt to nail down
Divinity Racked and disjointed,
Still suffering our mock homage. 

Cast crowns, cast lots, cast off your
Tawdry kind of kingship –
So much dressing up –
Christ rides triumphant over cast-down cloaks
Every inch a king with none of the apparel. 

His crown, the star
The cross, his throne where he
Invests the cosmos with his gift of Love, unadorned.

Amen.

Sr Laurentia Johns OSB, Stanbrook Abbey

The Hope of Christmas

The hope of Christmas
God, our dayspring and our dawn,
We turn to you when we fear the dark
And all around us weep.
We pray you greet us with your shining light
That we may spread your warm embrace
And kindle the hope of Christmas
In all whose lives remain in shadow.
Come and be our strength
O Lord, our hope and our salvation.

Amen.

Annabel Shilson-Thomas/CAFOD

A message from the Board – December 2023

Dear Friends,

I am writing as we begin the next four weeks of Advent preparing for the gift of God’s son to the world, to announce that our our period of waiting for a new worker for Growing Old Grace-fully is over!

I am very pleased with funding support from the Diocese, the Day for Life fund of the Bishop’s Conference and Holy Child Sisters, we have engaged a freelance worker to support our work.

Welcome to Greg Mulholland who will be working with us part-time for the next year.

Greg is an experienced communications professional and will build on the excellent work of our previous freelance workers, in taking forward the work of Growing Old Grace-fully and delivering our vision and mission.

We have a clear brief to organise Zoom meetings to support parishes to be more Later Life friendly, as well as working with two parishes more intensely to support them in their work with older people. This is of course on top of our communications to our subscribers and supporters.

Greg says, “I’m delighted to be working with Growing Old Grace-fully, to deliver its important vision and mission in our Diocese and I look forward to working with the Board, volunteers and parishes to help older people across the Catholic Diocese of Leeds experience spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing in positive and inclusive parish communities”.

We are looking for parishes to work with us on this in the next year. Do please contact us at growing.old.gracefully@dioceseofleeds.org.uk if your parish is interested in taking part in this.

This December mailing includes an Advent reflection from a member of our board of trustees, Pippa Bonner and some suggestions for prayers which you may want to use yourself or share with other parishioners

With blessings for Advent,

Best wishes,

Carol Burns and trustees of Growing Old Gracefully

Looking Back over this last 18 months – GOG Annual Review 2021

We have been busy reflecting back on this last period of time, with grateful hearts for all we have been able to do despite restrictions, and looking forward to what is to come in coming months.

Take a look at our colourful Newsletter style Annual Review

Scroll down for a summary from our Chair of Trustees:

On the first page of our Newsletter Carol Burns (Chair of Trustees) reflects on what we have been able to do over the last 18 months, and looks forward to September and beyond.

A Year like No Other

‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you’ Isaiah 43:2

This verse from Isaiah was the title we chose for our 12 page booklet sent out during the first lockdown when we were all reeling from the devastating effects of the virus in the first wave.

We will all have our own stories of the ‘waters’ we have been through and the ups and downs of navigating them.

Maybe our sense of God ‘being with us’ has also fluctuated at times, but in faith we know He is constant and eternally present.

Given the ever changing circumstances over the last 16 months, the trustees are very glad to have had the support of Rhoda Wu who began working for us in January 2020.  Her imaginative and creative ideas and ability to work well with us have meant we were able to respond effectively, producing and posting out 2 printed booklets for those not online, holding 4 online services or events with different themes, sending out monthly updates, and working in partnership with at least 5 different organisations.

We know from feedback that these have had a positive and meaningful impact on older people across the parishes of Leeds (and beyond), and we believe the ripple effect will have caused more outcomes than we will ever know, for which we are grateful. One positive outcome of online activities has been that it enabled some people to participate who may have felt excluded in the past, a welcome addition to our ways of working.

Looking forward

Like many others, we are now turning our attention to September and the year ahead, consulting with older people,  reassessing our priorities, and making tentative plans which we hope will meet the emerging needs of older people and parishes as we all readjust for a different future.

Initial consultation has highlighted that people would welcome some sharing good practice events on  ‘Learning from Lockdown – supporting and including older people more effectively going forward’ so we are aiming to plan this for the Autumn. In addition many would like something on the topic of ‘Finding our Calling in Later life’, so look out for more about this coming up.

We have an ongoing commitment and funding for a Demonstration Project for testing out a Lay Chaplain for Older People role in 2 parishes this coming year and have started discussions with a couple of parishes about this.

Do keep an eye on our mailings and website for up to date information, and we look forward to connecting with you in one way or another soon.

Carol Burns, Chair of Trustees