On 1 September the Pastoral Placement Participants joined as they do on the first Friday of the month for prayer, and formation, they take turns to lead the group in reflection. This month Xanthe Lamont led the group with her personal insights of the season.
“As today we sit here on the first day of Spring, I wanted to reflect upon the wonder of nature, beauty, and creativity. The changing of the seasons, especially from winter to spring, is one of my favourite things to witness. To watch the trees, don their coats again, and the sun warming your arms as you sit outside. The air smells different too, I love the crisp breath of a winter morning, but the spring carries the grass seeds, the leaves. Never have I been so sure that God is real when I saw His creation, when my eyes swept over the landscape or when they settle on something so insignificant, like the running skip of ants. I think of the things that religious architecture, but the Catholics especially want to do with their buildings, is to inspire a profound sense of awe and beauty, beauty so big that you just can’t help but kneel at its majesty. In response to an argument about why Catholics build such extravagant churches when people are starving, I once heard someone say, “God deserves the most beautiful home, and this beauty tells a tiny bit about how beautiful God is.” And while I love our great imposing gothic cathedrals, I can’t help but think that nothing humans could build could ever compare to what God Himself has fashioned for us to enjoy.
One of my favourite quotes is from my favourite book, Anne of Green Gables; “I'd go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and I'd look up into the sky--up--up--up--into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I'd just feel a prayer.” I ask himself why God created beauty, God could just as easily have gotten the job done by placing us in the desert and making us physically capable of eating sand, why did God give humans the devastating and amazing gift of creativity, and of romance, and all these things that we do not need to survive? I think it is because He loves us, and we love Him. Sometimes when my eyes comb over the layers of rock or the trees stretching up to the sky, I picture the words “I love you” carved into everything I see. God wants to have these amazing things because He loves us and He doesn’t just want us to survive, but to feel and think, and be awe. And humans can do the same thing, by using our creative gifts, in whatever that looks like, whether that is designing beautiful houses for God in churches, or writing, or painting. So, today’s question is: how do we say back to God, “I love you too” within us and around us?”
It was earlier in the year that the Pastoral Placement Participants attended their annual retreat which focused on the Holy Spirit. During this time together they completed the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory by Sherry Weddell. Xanthe ‘s spiritual gift which was highlighted from the exercise was writing, and we can appreciate this from her reflection at the monthly gathering.
Teaching was the spiritual gift that shone for Johanna Soo who has been Youth Minister at St Therese’s Lambton since 2022. Her role is to connect with and mentor students in our schools and parishes so that they are able to explore what it means to encounter Jesus in a variety of settings.
Johanna is currently facilitating regular podcasts with the senior students and this week her theme for discussion was fittingly centred around Pope Francis’ Laudato Si and the Season of Creation.
Conversation flowed from the students around the importance of stewardship, caring for our earth and acting upon our words. Johanna challenged the students to think about what they currently do and what they can do in the future. It was refreshing to witness these young people demonstrate their genuine concern for the irresponsible actions of the past. The students spoke about our accountability and the fact that it matters that we all take part in our call to action.
“Everyone is hurting the earth,” said Liam, “and we are all responsible.”
Johanna is passionate about sharing her faith with the students and she openly and eagerly devotes her time journeying alongside the students. How comforting it is to know that today’s youth care deeply about God and creation.
This Season of Creation you are invited to join us for prayer and reflection, then participate in the 5km Awabakal Coastal Walk. It is an opportunity to surround yourself with the beauty of God’s creation and consider how we might respond as the people of God caring for our common home.
Date: Saturday 30 September
Location: We will commence with prayer and reflection at St John Vianney’s Church Redhead, then walk 5km on the Awabakal Coastal Walk and loop back to Redhead. Light lunch provided.
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