Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Barn Dance at the FISC, 9th October 2009

Sisters from Monte Bre Community attended the evening Barn Dance organised by the Friends of the FISC. For some of our overseas students it was their first time to try this kind of dancing. But with no previous experience required, the idea is that we all learn each dance together and then we all get it wrong together, with hilariously disastrous consequences. There was a buffet supper provided by the Friends at half time. It was an ideal opportunity for new students and more seasoned members of FISC community to get to know each other. A great time was had by all.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Cooking for Homeless People in Canterbury

On 29th September, Srs. Rose and Clare began volunteer work for 2 hours a week at the Canterbury Open Centre for homeless people run by The Scrine Foundation. They were introduced to the Centre and its work by Gail, the Volunteer Co-ordinator. Since the Centre had been inundated with donations of vegetables, much labour was needed to cook all these while they were still fresh. The Sisters helped in the kitchen to make these into several varieties of soup that could be frozen and used through the winter. The next week, we were stewing large amounts of donated apples.

Rose manning (or 'womaning') the blender

The work is fun in a friendly atmosphere and we enjoy chatting with the clients and other volunteers. We look forward to our weekly sessions here.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Transitus of St. Francis 3rd October 2009

This year's Transitus at the Franciscan International Study Centre (FISC) was a commemoration of the 8th Centenary of the beginnings of Franciscan life. It was specially written and introduced by fr. David Blowey OFM Conv. This liturgy imagined Brs. Francis and Leo on Francis' final journey from Siena, where he dictated a Testament, to the Portiuncula, Assisi, where he passed from death to life. As they travel, Francis is remembering by free association the action of God in the spiritual journey of himself and the Brothers and Sisters. Through our participation in this prayer, we in the FISC community were led to reflect on how we were living out the values of Francis in today's world. The part of Francis was read by Br. Austin SSF and Leo, by Br. Jack OFM.
The service began in FISC Common Room. In Siena, Francis thought about the start of his journey, when he helped a poor knight and God showed him a vision of a palace full of armour for him and his knights. This vision was represented in the Common Room (see left) where the students of Clare House FISC led us to question how we are helping Christ in the poor today.

Monte Bre Community were asked to present 'Spoleto' the next stage of the journey. Francis recalled his dream at Spoleto on his way to war in which God asked him to follow the voice of his true Lord, not of an earthly warlord. Francis remembered his true Lord had spoken to him from the Crucifix in San Damiano, telling him to 'rebuild my house'.

Starting with images and sounds of glorified violence, individuals were asked to remove the newspaper images, piece by piece (right). Underneath was revealed the San Damiano Crucifix and the Lord's message, 'Rebuild My House'.
Francis understood that this meant to build up the Church of Christ by ministering to God's poor ones and John's Gospel narrative of the washing of the disciples' feet was begun. The Monte Bre Sisters moved around all the people giving a blessing on the forehead with blessed oil. The reading concluded with our reminder to follow Christ's example of service, 'If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.' After this, we all processed to Francis' final resting place, the Portiuncula (FISC chapel), singing, 'Lord, make me a means of your peace'.
FISC Chapel prepared for Transitus

Francis now recalled the Gospel text which struck him at the Portiuncula, in which Jesus taught the disciples to, 'take nothing for the journey' and to say, 'peace to this house', where they rested. This connected with Francis' memory of the greeting the Lord revealed to him, 'may the Lord give you peace'. All then shared bread and a sign of peace together. A reading of Francis' fifteenth Admonition reminded us that the peacemakers are those, 'who preserve peace of mind and body for love of our Lord Jesus Christ, despite what they suffer in this world.' We then prayed the Psalm 141 with Francis and heard the narration of his final moments in this world. The lights dimmed until only candle light remained and sombre music faded to silence. We were left to pray over Francis' parting words, '"I have done what is mine; may Christ teach you what is yours".' We will remember this year's Transitus as an exceptionally moving prayer experience.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Garden Maintenance with William

Sr. Rose digging around the apple trees

Willie trims lawn edges with giant clippers

William from Glasgow has lived in a mobile home at the rear of Monte Bre for around 30 years. He is the longest-standing resident at Monte Bre. Willie helps the Sisters, who look after him, with grounds security, gardening and general maintenance.