Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finishing an era

You have probably noticed that, over the past few months, I have had to change the frequency of the refelctions that I have been both sending as an e-mail and also putting up on my blogspots 'Pause for Prayer'.
The reason is simple: I am doing a considerable amount of writing as part of my normal daily work for the Pontifical Mission Societies and there is a limit to the amount of writing that I can do in one day.
As a result, I have had to come to the decision to bring 'Pause for Prayer' to an end, although I will try to maintain the website 'Pause and Pray' ( for a while longer.
I am sorry that this should be so. During the past four years, I very grateful to God for the number of people who have written to say that they have appreciated and even shared my efforts. There have been many times when I have been privileged to accompany others, even unknowingly, on their journey towards God.
There have been many times when you have taught and enriched me.
Thank you so much for all your support during the past four years.
I will continue to post prayer requests on the Pause and Pray Prayer Board and will also update 'Monastic Meditations'.
Hopefully, from time to time, I will also update the site in other ways.
May God bless and protect you and yours,
Sr Janet

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

‘A better offer’

Just back from the funeral of a priest who died suddenly last week… There were 75 concelebrants plus the bishop, with several priests not concelebrating, standing amongst the congregation in a church in which even standing room was at a premium.

It seems to me that death can be a wonderful time for demonstrating an amazing degree of solidarity and faith. Death is not the end. It is only the beginning. As Bishop Brain said in his homily, “Death is a sign that God has given ‘a better offer’ than life and has taken God up on that offer, which is to spend the rest of eternity in a loving relationship with him.”

As November draws towards its close, we remember in a special way, all those who have died. May they rest in peace and may those who are left behind be filled with all the comfort and strength that they need.

God bless,
Sr Janet

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back from Nigeria

Well, here I am, back from Nigeria, to find trees that have, in the meantime, turned from green to many shades of gold, from their abundance to their late-Autumn dress of fewer and fewer leaves as the wind blows. By contrast, I have left behind cloudless blue skies, high temperatures and the dust of the harmattan season that carries sand from the Sahara…

It was a wonderful experience and in many different ways. Thirty years have passed since my first visit to Nigeria, so many things have changed and many remain unchanged.

As we checked in online, the day before departure, printing out boarding passes for the plane, there was a sense of amazement that such is entirely possible today (admittedly painfully slowly), something undreamed even a few years ago.

Also, with the collapse of landline telephones, mobile phones are everywhere. Who would ever have imagined that a young man strolling through a remote village would also be speaking into his mobile phone? As the nomadic Fulani herd their cattle through the drying grass towards the rivers for grazing, who could ever have envisaged his phone and a radio accompanying the small bundle of possessions strapped to one of the animals?

In the past 30 years, Islamisation has become an increasingly important factor for the Church to consider in any of its activities. Yet, in spite of visiting churches in the process of rebuilding after their destruction by ‘activists’, there was also the memorable visit, escorted by Bishop Matthew Audu of Lafia, to the Emir where, within the palace, we prayed over the Emir and his court. In return, one of his entourage prayed over us. It was a 2008 re-enactment of the visit of St Francis of Assisi to the Sultan 800 years ago, precious and full of hope for the future.

There was Mass offered in the prison in Lafia, where the innocent and great criminals were herded together and, outside the chapel, a man was shackled, naked, in the hot sun, as punishment for his escape attempt. Yet that Liturgy followed a steady stream of inmates going to Confession and was filled with a deeply-moving mixture of joy and pain. One man wore a light blue t-shirt with a line-drawing of Jesus carrying the Cross. It said it all. Many of the prisoners were there only because they had no money to pay a lawyer. How many years will it be before they come to trial…if ever?

Yet there were also the children, full of smiles, showing off their ability to read, too young to realise that, since time began, they are the first from their villages ever to enjoy that skill…

God bless,
Sr Janet